The 1980 census indicates that more than 20% of the United States population is composed of racial and ethnic minorities: 11.5% blacks; 64% Hispanice; and the remaining 24% Asians, American Indians and Eskimos. Minority groups, with the exception of Asians and Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in the health professions. Seven point two percent are in the Medical profession; 7.5% in Dentistry; 4% in Optometry; 8.9% in Pharmacy and 9.2% in professional nursing (Bureau of Census, 1981). Employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1980 show that blacks and other racial minorities fill only 11% of all "white-collar jobs" in the health care industry while Hispanics fill only 2% of such jobs.
Recognizing that the representation of minorities in professional schools is less than 5% and that enrollment trends indicate that first-year enrollment of minorities in most health professions educational programs has remained constant or declined since 1975-76 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1984). The University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB) embarked on a recruiting strategy to adress the issues.
The University of Maryland Baltimore Pre-Professional and Research Training (PRT) provided a ten-week paid work and academic experience for 45 students. Some of the general requirements included: residency of Maryland students of selected high schools and undergraduate state institutions, members of racial minority groups, members of culturally disadvantaged groups, and members of a disadvantaged rural underserved population. A committee of UMAB selected participants based on four criteria: (1) Recommendations from Counselor or Faculty Member, (2) Transcript, (3) Essay, and (4) Personal Interview. Once selected, participants were supervised by professionals from the seven UMAB schools and Allied Health Programs.
Activities provided: (1) exposure to regular professional summer courses such as: Biochemistry, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, etc.; (2) exposure to graduate research and training opportunities on the Baltimore campus; (3) enhancement of career/education experiences through the weekly seminars; (4) participation in clinical laboratory and research activities; (5) interprofessional and involvement with people from the seven professional schools and programs; and (6) study skill review. An evaluation mechanism was built into the summer career opportunity program to test the validity of the recruitment strategy.
The pre-professional and research training program (PRT) is one of two summer programs that are held at UMAB as part of the health careers opportunity pipeline program. This ten-week program provides classroom and field experience primarily for minority students from local colleges and universities.
Students who have expressed career interests in nursing are interviewed by a member of the School of Nursing faculty (usually, but not necessarily, the Supervisor). The prospective participant is evaluated on how well she or he responds to questions, in terms of career goals and objectives, how good the course grades in the sciences were, and the overall grade point average.
On acceptance into the program, the student begins the paid ten-week experience. From Monday to Thursday of each week in the program the students are assigned to a department, office, laboratory, or in the case for nursing, one of the nursing units of University Hospital.
The first three weeks of the program include an orientation to School of Nursing, lectures and laboratory in basic nursing skills, i.e., bedmaking, bathing, feeding, transporting and comfort measures, vital signs all of which are designed to prepare them to function at the nursing aide level. In the remaining seven weeks, from Monday through Thursday the students are assigned to a general nursing unit of University Hospital from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour for lunch. On Tuesday and Thursday of each week they have classes from 1-3 p.m. with members of the School of Nursing faculty on a variety of nursing topics and study skills.
On Friday, the students attend central program activities that include study skills, special classes and a series of workshops that are designed to assist them to become more knowledgeable through experiences with members of the professional and graduate programs they have selected to pursue. The students from nursing are included with other students who have career interests in Dentistry, Pharmacy, Medicine, Allied Health, Law, and Social Work who are assigned for the ten weeks in those respective schools of the UMAB campus.
An undergraduate student can gain exposure to the type of professional environment in which he or she may be working in the future. For example, the student has experiences with nurses and nursing. This is a useful exposure because the student learns whether or not a career goal in nursing is really what is desired. The interactions with health professionals and other students reinforces their selection of a specific career choice. In addition, by interacting with students who have career interests in other health professions, e.g., Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry, the prospective nursing students gain experiences in understanding the interrelatedness of the health professions.
The program is a valuable recruitment source for students from minority groups in that students from minority groups make up the majority of the applicant pool for this program. Colleges and universities in the area (Baltimore and Maryland Eastern Shore) with predominantly black enrollments are visited by faculty members and staff members of the Office of Student Affairs to inform the students and faculty about the types and goals of the six professional schools on the Baltimore campus. Students are encouraged to apply to the program through the Student Affairs Office. The program goals are: 1) determine the relation of the selection process to student achievement, 2) assessment of academic performance preprofessionally, 3) the integration of these students into the mainstream of teaching and research activities of the campus, and 4) evaluate minority student access and achievement.
The interview for each school follows the same general format, i.e., intellectual ability or how well the applicant communicates. The interviewer examines their personal characteristics or qualities such as whether they appear to be confident, poised, shy or withdrawn, what their interests and aspirations are and what knowledge and experiences they have had that may be relevant to their career goals.
Each school on the UMAB campus provides "supervisors" for the summer program. The number of supervisors is determined by the number of students accepted by that school. The School of Nursing usually has two supervisors in that eight to ten students are accepted into the nursing program. One of the supervisors also acts as program coordinator for the School of Nursing.
The role of the supervisor is to plan, implement, and evaluate the experience for the students, and is concerned with the negotiation of student placements with the nurse and the department chairmen at University Hospital. The Supervisor is responsible for completing time sheets of the students assigned to the various units, making clinical rounds each day to note student progress, and involvement in the overall evaluation of the summer program as well.
As part of the overall planning and administration of the program, the office of student affairs coordination, (OSAC) develops a schedule that is designed to match those developed by each school. The central program activities include workshops and seminars that are scheduled for every Friday for all students from all schools in the program. The students are involved in their selected school sites Monday through Thursday.
Both tangible and intangible benefits result from the summer program. Prospective students in nursing are introduced to theoretical and practical aspects of the profession. They interact with nurses and other professionals during their tenure.
Tangible: The School of Nursing has had at least one and as many as six students enroll per year in the undergraduate program since the program began. Students are provided an opportunity to earn money during the summer. The program assists them in making informed decisions about career choices. There is a net gain in the number of minority group students who enter and complete programs in the professional schools of the university including nursing.
Intangible: The students seem to enjoy the interdisciplinary interactions they have in the activities and classes of the central program. The experience allows some of the students to verify their perceptions about the other professions in general and about nursing specifically. The minority group students and majority group students seem to profit from their interactions with each other in terms of understanding and mutual respect for cultural and racial differences.
- U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census: United States Department of Commerce Newa, CB 81-32, February 23, 1981.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Administration, Division of Health Professions Analysis: Minorities and Vfcmen in the Health Field. DHHS Pub No. (HRSA) HRS-DV 84-5, 1984.