Priming the Pump: UVa Program Involves HBCUs in Recruiting Minority Medical Students

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Priming the Pump: UVa Program Involves HBCUs in Recruiting Minority. Medical Students

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- An investment during the past 15 years to expose minority students to the rigors of medical school before classes actually begin has paid off in a big way for the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVa).

The university has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of minority students applying and, when admitted, staying through graduation.

"This is a school that has gone from 3 percent minority to 16 percent," said professor Moses Woode, associate dean for student academic support, speaking of a period from the early 1980s to the present. "That is what is dramatic about our program here."

UVa's Medical Academic Advance Program (MAAP), a six-week residential summer academic enrichment program for minority and disadvantaged college students, has brought 1,110 undergraduates to its Charlottesville campus since 1984.

Of the 506 who responded to follow-up surveys, 150 students have received medical degrees, 39 of which were from UVa. Another 223 are now enrolled in medical school. In total, 101 participants in the MAAP program have enrolled at UVa's School of Medicine of whom only one left for academic reasons. The dramatic increase can be seen by looking at the figures from 1980, when six Black students entered the medical school out of the 91 who applied and the 12 who were accepted. In 1995, UVa received 666 applications from minorities. Of those, 41 were offered admission.

Partnered with HBCUs

Part of UVa's program involves working with faculty members from a consortium of 28 undergraduate schools who identify and recruit students.

"Networking and linkage have been very important," Woode said.

Besides networking with universities like Brown, North Carolina and Stanford, the consortium, which received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1989, includes several historically Black colleges.

"A lot of schools use the historically Black institutions as their feeder institutions, "Woode said. "We decided to go the other way and bring them in as partners so they have an investment in what we are trying to do here."

Once accepted into medical school, some students participate in MAAP II, a six-week summer program that prepares them for the pace, content and volume of information they will receive in medical school, Woode said.

Other students receive admission to the medical school on the condition that they participate in a 15-month post-baccalaureate program, which is preceded by the original MAAP program and followed by MAAP II. Of the 50 students who have taken the transition program, 33 are in medical school and seven more are expected in the fall of 1996.

Relative Success

Timothy Ready of the Association of American Medical Colleges' minority affairs office said the rate at which UVa has improved the number of minority students recruited and retained is noteworthy.

"It shows that the institution has a strong commitment to diversity," Ready said of the university's support for the MAAP program. "They're willing to go through the work and effort to sponsor such a program."

In absolute numbers, though, the percentage of minority medical students at UVa is only somewhat above the national average of 12.1 percent, Ready said.

Whereas AAMC numbers show that a little more than 15 percent of UVa's latest medical school class are underrepresented minorities, the classes at the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina are 22 percent and 23 percent respectively. …