• Efforts to inform pre-health-career advisors of opportunities in health professions and entrance and admissions requirements;

  • Educational enrichment programs aimed at URM and educationally disadvantaged students, which typically expose high school and college-level students to health professions education curriculums and to the programs and services of health professions schools; and

  • Partnerships between majority- and historically minority-serving institutions, to foster student exchanges and encourage URM students to pursue further study in health professions.

Several examples of these recruitment efforts are highlighted in published literature (see Boxes 5-3 and 5-4). Few of these programs, however, have been evaluated to determine their effectiveness and/or which components of recruitment efforts are most useful.

Retention of URM Students

Recruitment, admission, and matriculation of URM students represent only the first steps for health professions training programs to ensure successful educational experiences for URM students. While data are not uniformly available for all health professions, URM medical students experience higher rates of academic failure, withdrawal, and lower graduation rates than non-URM medical students (Rainey, 2001), trends that are also likely to occur in dentistry, nursing, and psychology training programs.

This pattern of poorer success in health professions training settings is likely the result of many factors. As noted earlier in this report, because of inequitable educational opportunities, URM students often receive an inferior academic preparation in K-12 and college relative to non-URM students. URM students also face greater financial challenges than non-URM students, particularly in the face of rising tuition costs at almost all public and private universities. The dearth of URM faculty results in fewer opportunities for URM students to obtain mentoring from individuals who are most familiar with the cultural and economic background of these students (Rainey, 2001). Incidents of racial discrimination and unfair treatment on the basis of race and ethnicity are, unfortunately, not rare events for health professions students (e.g., more than one in seven medical students who reported being mistreated also reported being subjected to racially or ethically offensive remarks; AAMC, 2000). Furthermore, URM students typically report higher levels of alienation from the campus environment and may not find appropriate social supports to counter these feelings.

A growing number of HPEIs are developing comprehensive strategies to improve retention among URM students, with a range of programs that may include intervention efforts to increase academic preparation,

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