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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

June 21, 2000 Contact: Jody Oesterreicher (312) 996-8277; joest@uic.edu


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently awarded the UIC School of Public Health $347,000 to increase the number of African-Americans and Latinos enrolling and graduating with advanced degrees in the public health sciences.

"We cannot eliminate the gap in health between people of color and Caucasians without eliminating the extensive gap in the training of health care professionals," said Shaffdeen Amuwo, associate dean for community, government and alumni affairs in the UIC School of Public Health.

The education and recruitment program, led by Amuwo and UIC School of Public Health dean, Susan Scrimshaw, targets students in five grade schools and four high schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. The goal of the program is to increase by 40 percent over five years the number of under-represented minorities enrolling in and graduating from advanced public health degree programs.

The program, called the Chicago Expanded Health Professional Partnership Initiative, is unique in that it targets children beginning in elementary school and follows them through high school with grade-specific approaches to increasing their awareness of public health career options and preparing them for admission into and graduation from public health degree programs. "One of the difficulties with our profession is that people don't know what we do and how it affects lives," Amuwo said.

The initiative will strive to accomplish its mission through activities and programs including:

  • Increasing awareness of public health issues and career options among elementary school children by holding a public health general assembly during national Public Health Week
  • Working with science teachers to encourage middle school students to create public health-related science fair projects and providing each school with $400 for exhibit materials
  • Developing public health educational modules for middle school students that encompass coursework, field trips and service learning projects on the environment and public safety
  • Increasing awareness of public health issues and career options among high school students through visits by public health professionals
  • Creating a mentor program for high school students to be paired with members of the UIC Public Health Student Association
  • Recruiting high school students into a Saturday Public Health Academy, a half-day program during which students will discuss public health issues and school course selection, as well as engage in a public health research project
  • Identifying and training a coordinator at each high school to organize public health-related clubs
  • Providing a paid six-week summer enrichment program for 40 high school students to work with public health professionals
  • Organizing ACT preparation and review sessions
  • Developing a public health teaching institute composed of UIC faculty and public health practitioners to train educators and counselors in the rudiments of public health, how to incorporate public health into science and math instruction, and career opportunities
  • Promoting public health among parents of high school students through the participation of UIC faculty in school open houses and Parent Teacher Association and Local School Council meetings

The UIC Chicago Expanded Professional Partnership Initiative builds on and integrates existing programs and partnerships designed to improve the educational performance of minority students and health profession recruitment. These programs and partnerships include:

  • UIC School of Public Health Health Careers Opportunity Program, a federally funded program to recruit minorities from high schools, junior colleges and other higher educational institutions into public health degree programs
  • UIC Urban Health Program to recruit minorities into the health professions
  • UIC Colleges of Dentistry, Health and Human Development, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy
  • Guaranteed Professional Program Admission, a special initiative of the UIC Chancellor to guarantee admission to qualified freshman into selected UIC graduate programs
  • UIC College of Education Early Outreach Program
  • Health care institutions including the Illinois and Chicago departments of health and Illinois Area Health Education Centers
  • Community-based organizations including the Hispanic Health Alliance and West Side Association for Community Action
  • Chicago Public Schools including: Kenwood Academy, Lane Technical High School, Morgan Park High School, Whitney Young High School, Barnard Computer Academy, Beasley Academic Center, Robert Black Magnet School, Mireles Academy and Ninos Heroes Community Academy

"Our success will be based on the extent to which our partners work with us. Like us, they have a stake in children growing up healthy and having an understanding of public health issues," Amuwo said.

The UIC School of Public Health is one of just eight schools of public health to receive a grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation' Health Professions Partnership Initiative. The school, accredited in 1972, is the only fully accredited school of public health in Illinois. It is home to the Heath Research and Policy Centers and Great Lakes Center for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health.

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