October 11, 2002

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Grant Helps Students Launch Health Careers

Lack of available learning opportunities limit career options for disadvantaged students, but a grant to Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences will give students who qualify a chance to become doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and health professionals.

"OSU has been awarded a $1 million, three-year Health Careers Opportunity Program grant (HCOP) to encourage diversity in health fields by giving the students opportunities to develop needed skills to attend and graduate from health professions schools," says Leigh B. Goodson, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs and HCOP project director.

The project provides stipends for eligible students from middle school through post-college. They take part in specialized academic activities designed to help them develop knowledge and skills needed to become health professionals.

The program offers structured programs for four educational levels including Saturday Academies for middle school students, Summer Academic Enrichment Programs for high school level, MCAT preparation courses for undergraduate students, specialized coursework and retention services for entering medical students, and a medical admission workshops for post-college programs.

The medical school completed a three-year HCOP grant last year that boosted minority enrollment at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine from 17 percent to 21 percent, Goodson says.

“There always is a need in health care to serve disadvantaged populations and it can be difficult to find health professionals to meet the needs of this population,” Goodson says. The program will not only help them achieve their educational goals, it will encourage them to return to their communities to serve, she adds. The program is expected to have 100 participants annually.

Project partners include the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, OSU High School and College Relations, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Tulsa Indian Health Care Resource Center, Association of American Indian Physicians, Sapulpa Public Schools and Hamilton Middle School in Tulsa.

Contact: Karen Wicker, 918-561-8215