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According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 8% of medical students and 5% of physicians are black or African American. In order to fix this problem, the American Heart Association, which is the leading non-profit public health organization working to make the world a healthier, longer place for everyone, has chosen 52 students from 23 colleges and universities to take part in its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Scholars program.
The Association’s HBCU Scholars are enrolled in biomedical or other health sciences programs at their respective institutions. Through their participation in the Scholars program, they will study how the social determinants of health and other health disparities impact underserved communities. They will also take part in scientific research projects and present their findings at the end of the program.
“Since 2015, the American Heart Association HBCU Scholars program has helped change the trajectory of dozens of under-represented students in science and medicine by fostering their talent, preparedness and growth to pursue careers in biomedical science…As champions for health care quality and access for all, the American Heart Association is committed to building the pipeline of diverse persons in medicine and empowering the next generation of research and health care professionals.”– Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA,American Heart Association Volunteer President
The program is paid for by a grant from the Quest Diagnostics Foundation, which also helps pay for the Hispanic Serving Institutes (HSI) Scholars Program of the American Heart Association.
“This program plays an essential role in supporting the pipeline of Black students who will increase representation and equity in the health care field…We are proud to support this next cohort of HBCU Scholars with the American Heart Association as it provides them with enriching academic and networking experiences to help them excel in their career paths.”– Mandell Jackson, Vice President and General Manager, Quest for Health Equity, Quest Diagnostics
Accepted students are selected based on their GPA, the completion of a formal application, which includes an essay, and an official recommendation from their school. During the program, scholars are paired with a mentor who works in health care or is currently performing their own relevant scientific research. They will also take part in a leadership development program and get a small amount of money to help pay for their education. More information about the American Heart Association’s HBCU Scholars initiative can be found here: https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/office-of-health-equity/hbcu-scholars-program/current-hbcu-scholars.
Clinical research studies published in the American Journal of Public Health suggest that patients of color may experience uncomfortable interactions and communication barriers with their health care providers due to a lack of diversity and face implicit and unconscious bias from physicians and other health care professionals. These barriers, in turn, can lower patients’ trust in the overall health care system, and as a result, these patients may not complete prescribed treatments or follow-up on recommended care. Addressing this issue is a vital component of the HBCU Scholars program.
Each year, the association asks sophomores, juniors, and seniors from historically underrepresented communities who are currently attending an HBCU and want to get a professional degree in biomedical and health sciences to fill out an application.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health, and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.