University of Utah Holds Conference To Encourage More Minorities To Enroll in Medical School, Pursue Other Health Professions
The University of Utah School of Medicine for the second year on Saturday hosted a no-cost conference for minority and women college students in the state who are interested in careers in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and physical therapy, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The conference, which was sponsored by the Latino Medical Student Association, was geared toward American Indians, Hispanics, blacks, Pacific Islanders and women in an effort to increase the number of minority students in health care professions, organizers said. It included workshops on careers in various health care fields, information on how to apply to medical school and job opportunities.
There are 16 Hispanic medical students, three Pacific Islander students and one American Indian student enrolled in the University of Utah School of Medicine, which is the only medical school in the state. Hispanics account for 11% of the state population but less than 4% of medical students. In addition, the number of Hispanics in the state increased an estimated 50% from 2000 to 2006, but the number of Hispanic medical students has remained the same for the last 10 years. Asian-Americans are not considered an under-represented minority at the school; there are 39 Asian-American students enrolled, up from 20 students 10 years ago.
Candi Ramos, director of diversity and community outreach at the medical school, said, "I'm not too happy with the numbers," adding, "There's always a need to increase the under-represented minority populations." She said recruiting and retaining minority students is a challenge for the University of Utah and other U.S. medical schools, adding that many minority students do not graduate from college and fewer apply for graduate school. She said the conference allows minority students to visit the campus and meet mentors, adding, "They get to identify with someone and say, 'If they can do it, I can do it'" (Sanchez, Salt Lake Tribune, 4/4).