The University Record, July 22, 1998

HOPE hopes to interest students in health care education, careers

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Representatives from seven U-M schools and colleges, the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, community groups and private industry have joined together to create HOPE--a comprehensive program designed to get more minority students in the Ypsilanti Public Schools interested in careers as health care professionals and technicians.

"The number of Black, Latino and Native American students interested in health-related careers decreases every year from elementary school on," says Lisa A. Tedesco, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Dentistry and co-principal investigator for the new program. "HOPE's goal is to develop a successful model for how to recruit qualified minority students into the health professions and maintain their interest through the critical middle school and high school years."

The Health Occupations Partners in Education (HOPE) Program will begin operations this fall funded by a $350,000 five-year grant just received from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. An additional $400,000 in additional funding and in-kind support will be provided by HOPE Program partners.

A search is under way for a manager to coordinate the many elements of the new program--including a weekend science and math tutoring/mentoring program using U-M student volunteers, development of materials highlighting the health professions that can be incorporated into the middle and high school curriculum, creation of a HOPE Education Task Force made up of Ypsilanti High School parents and teachers, and a series of career development presentations by individuals currently working in the health professions and biomedical sciences.

"This is the first time all U-M health-related schools and colleges have collaborated with local groups and businesses on one educational initiative to help serve our state and community," Tedesco adds. "Ypsilanti school teachers and administrators have been enthusiastic from the beginning, and we have received tremendous support from our deans and the provost."

"HOPE's goal is to show minority students that a career in the health professions is both viable and attainable," says A. Lorris Betz, interim dean of the Medical School and principal investigator of the program. "Our hope is that through programs like this one, the diversity of health professionals will increase as is appropriate to provide health care to a diverse patient population. As a national leader in education, research and service, it is especially exciting that the U-M has this opportunity to take the lead in addressing this important issue."

HOPE partners include the Ypsilanti Public Schools; Washtenaw Community College; the Minister's Alliance of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Vicinity; Ypsilanti-Willow Run NAACP; Parke Davis-Warner Lambert; Washtenaw County Black Nurses Association; Washtenaw County Task Force on African American Health; and the following U-M units: School of Dentistry, School of Education, Medical School, School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, and the Hospitals and Health Centers.