In their first-ever joint activity, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) are collaborating in a $12 million effort to create a more diverse medical and dental workforce and help reduce disparities in access to health care. The two associations, which represent U.S. medical and dental schools, have come together to serve as the national program offices for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). Under the program, which is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the AAMC and ADEA will work closely with medical and dental schools to diversify the medical and dental pipelines.
"Closing the diversity gap in the healthcare workforce is essential if we are to reduce the health care disparities that affect minority groups," said AAMC President Jordan J. Cohen, M.D. "Powerful partnerships like this one will help us move closer to this important goal."
Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., Executive Director of ADEA, said, "Meeting the needs of a diverse workforce is one of ADEA's strategic directions. We look forward to collaborating with AAMC and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help prepare students from diverse backgrounds for success in dental and medical schools."
"The diversity of the medical and dental professions is an important way to ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost," said John Lumpkin, M.D., Senior Vice President and Director, Health Care Group of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The foundation is delighted to be part of this landmark collaboration between AAMC and ADEA as we work together on concrete solutions to the health care access and diversity problem."
Through this innovative program, up to 10 accredited medical and dental schools will be selected to develop and implement six-week academic enrichment programs for qualified undergraduate college students who are strong advocates for diversity and/or who come from groups that are underrepresented in medicine and dentistry. Applicants may come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, racial and ethnic groups that historically have been underrepresented in medicine and dentistry, or parts of the country (such as rural areas) where residents historically have been underrepresented in medicine and dentistry. Sites will receive $300,000 per year for four years, with all grantees providing a dollar-for-dollar match in cash or in kind. Each site will include 80 students per summer.
By introducing potential medical and dental students to the academic and other requirements of these professions, the new summer programs will be designed to help students gain acceptance to medical or dental school and succeed once they are admitted. All grantees will structure their programs around a set of core operational and programmatic principles. Program components will include academic enrichment in the basic sciences and key electives; learning skills seminars; exposure to medical and dental clinics; exploration of the medical and dental professions; financial planning workshops; and individualized educational plans to help students achieve their goals.
This new program is an extension of previous programs conducted by the AAMC, ADEA, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. In 1988, the Foundation established the Minority Medical Education Program to increase the number of highly qualified medical school applicants from minority groups underrepresented in medicine-primarily African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. AAMC became the national program office for this program in 1993. In 2002 the foundation developed a program for dentistry with the assistance of Columbia University and ADEA. The Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program sponsors efforts at 11 dental schools to increase the time students spend in clinics treating underserved patients; prepare students for treating underserved patients; and recruit more underrepresented minority and low-income students to dental school.
The new Summer Medical and Dental Education Program is being launched at a running start. Brief proposals are due April 1 and full proposals June 17. Following evaluations and site visits, awards will be announced September 22. All accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools and dental schools are eligible to apply. Universities with both medical and dental schools on the same campus or within close proximity are required to apply in partnership. For more information on the application process, visit www.smdepgrant.org