UC Davis medical school hosts conference on sustaining pipeline programs for increasing diversity in health-care workforce
More than 100 participants from around California convened at the UC Davis School of Medicine for a conference focused on supporting "pipeline" programs that work to increase diversity in the health professions.
The School of Medicine hosted the conference as part of its commitment to diversify the health-care workforce. To improve health for all, UC Davis is transforming the nation's health-care system and workforce to reduce health disparities and meet the needs of underserved populations.
In addition to hosting, the School of Medicine co-sponsored the conference on behalf of the California Health Professions Consortium on Oct. 13-14. Held at the school's Education Building in Sacramento, the conference was the third annual statewide gathering of pipeline programs and the health employers, government agencies and educational institutions with whom they partner to increase the ranks of underrepresented groups in the health-care industry.
The School of Medicine has a number of programs designed to increase the diversity of health-professions students, including:
- The Saturday Academy -- Established and taught by first-year medical students, this unique program introduces high school students to a mini-version of medical school as a way to guide them into possible careers in health professions.
- Medical Student Anatomy Lab High School Outreach Program -- Medical students conduct anatomy lab classes and make presentations on admission requirements for the School of Medicine.
- Summer Scrubs -- This three-day academic preparation program helps talented high school students achieve their dreams of health care careers through in-depth preparation for their upcoming SAT exams, with a special medical emphasis.
Although helping underrepresented and disadvantaged students to succeed academically in becoming health professionals is more important than ever, the economy, California's budget and changes in funding priorities are making such support more challenging. The conference helped address a pressing need to strengthen networks, alliances and creative solutions among different organizations at local, regional and statewide levels that work to diversify the health-care workforce.
The conference's keynote speaker was Mayra Alvarez, director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health Reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Alvarez discussed recent and upcoming changes in health-care delivery strategies and their effect on medical education as a result of the 2010 health-care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. She described efforts by President Obama's administration to meet the health needs of Americans, including its work to make the recruitment and retention of primary care professionals a priority.
"Primary-care providers are critical for ensuring better coordinated care and better health outcomes for all Americans," Alvarez said. "Demand for primary-care services will likely increase in the coming years as the nation's population ages and as more Americans seek preventive care."
Alvarez said that together, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Affordable Care Act and ongoing federal investments in the health-care workforce have led to significant progress in training more new primary-care providers and encouraging them to practice in underserved areas.
Alvarez acknowledged the concern that future funding levels for programs meant to augment the supply of physicians and other health-care professionals practicing in medically underserved communities are unclear due to efforts to reduce the federal deficit.
The conference included a variety of workshops, presentations and sessions led by individuals with significant experience working in or with pipeline programs. Attendees had the opportunity to:
- Receive updated information about the current state of health workforce diversity in California and learn more about the potential roles and opportunities for pipeline programs
- Learn about emerging opportunities to reduce the achievement gap and empower K-12 students to successfully pursue health careers
- Share strategies and lessons learned for increasing pipeline program scale, sustainability and impact
Advance your ability to make the case for pipeline programs
- Learn how to partner with health employers, health professions schools and economic development agencies to develop and sustain pipeline programs
- Understand the latest developments with health reform implementation, building healthy communities and the California Budget and the implications for pipeline programs
The California Health Professions Consortium is a statewide consortium consisting of organizations and individuals with a vested interest in increasing diversity in California's health workforce. Members represent various sectors, including direct service providers, policy and advocacy organizations, academic institutions and health pipeline programs.