Background: Compared to white citizens of the US, American Indians (AI) experience health disparities that include significantly higher rates of diabetes, obesity, tuberculosis, infant mortality, alcoholism, and suicide. With higher rates of unemployment and poverty, the social determinants of health dictate poorer access to health care, and, ultimately, shorter life expectancy. As the AI population expands at twice the rate of the rest of the US, disparities will worsen. Underserved minorities prefer to see racially concordant health care professionals, and minority health care professionals are likelier to serve their own communities. Therefore, a strategy for reducing disparities is to increase the number of minority health care professionals. Enrichment programs have shown some success in encouraging the pursuit of health careers by minority students. Enrichment programs at Indian tribal colleges can readily reach and influence career intent of AIs.
Methods: A three-week summer course, "Community and Public Health," was offered to AIs at Cankdeska Cikana Community College. Data analysis using a paired sample t-test compared pre-course mean responses on a survey about career intent to post-course mean responses. An evaluation summary provided qualitative data.
Results: Eleven AI students completed the course. Data analysis showed no statistically significant change between any of the survey mean responses. Open-ended responses to the survey and on the evaluation provided qualitative data that the course positively influenced the students toward pursuit of health professions.
Conclusion: Enrichment courses at tribal colleges may influence AIs to pursue health professions. To increase the number of AI health care professionals so as to help reduce health disparities in this underserved population, there is opportunity for planners to: 1) design programs with multiple interventions that occur over a longer time span, and 2) plan programs that match AI students to specific health careers, eg, nurse, physician, dentist, and reinforce the match through mentorships with professionals.
|Advisor:||Ripp, Jonathan A.|
|School:||Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||MAI 51/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Education, Public health|
|Keywords:||American indian, Disparities, Enrichment program, Hcop, Tribal college, Underserved minorities|
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