November 8, 2010 - By Sascha Zubryd
The Stanford University School of Medicine’s Health Careers Opportunity Program is back, with new collaborators and a sharper focus, but the same objective: To enhance diversity in the health professions.
After shutting down the program in 2007 for three years because of a lack of federal funding, HCOP returns to Stanford thanks to a three-year, $3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Instead of just reinstating Stanford’s previous version of HCOP, the new funding enables the school’s Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education to partner with UC-Berkeley’s School of Public Health, San Francisco State University and other organizations. Additionally, rather than drawing students from throughout the nation for the summer program, the new HCOP calls for the educational institutions and clinical internship programs to work together to reach students in four Bay Area counties: Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
“Each of these programs has a history of functioning on its own,” said Ronald Garcia, PhD, assistant dean for minority affairs at the medical school and principal investigator for the San Francisco Bay Area Comprehensive HCOP grant. “What I think will be of value is the synergy of all these institutions working together. My hope is that we will be of greater benefits to students in the Bay Area.”
Stanford’s summer HCOP provides a six-week residential program for undergraduate students interested in pursuing health-care careers. The program’s goal is to increase diversity in the health professions by working with students who have faced financial or other barriers to academic success in preparing for careers in medicine.
“The pathway to a health profession is very mysterious, and very complicated. That’s where we come in, in terms of HCOP, demystifying that process,” said Garcia.
Keeping the summer residential program focused on local students will help HCOP leaders to stay in touch with them as they move through the medical school application process and beyond, Garcia said, emphasizing that “continuity is so important for these students.”
The summer residential program provides students with premedical academic advising; mentorship from Stanford medical students, faculty and staff; and instruction in health research, anatomy, cell biology, minority health issues and demographic health-care disparities. Garcia said the program also encourages students to get involved in health care in their communities.
Undergraduate students participate in HCOP during the summer after their sophomore or junior year. Garcia said the experience the students gain through the program strengthens their preparation for applying to medical school.
Stanford will begin accepting student applications Nov. 15 for the residential program that will be offered in the summer of 2011.
Sascha Zubryd is a science-writing intern for the medical school's Office of Communication & Public Affairs.
About Stanford Medicine
Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu.