By Alison Augustus-Wallace, Ph.D.
The SOM Office of Diversity & Community Engagement’s (ODCE) mission and programmatic role are to facilitate the priorities of the SOM’s strategic goals by: 1) Promoting the embracement of diversity and cultural competency by faculty, staff, house staff, and student body; and 2) Expanding outreach initiatives to develop and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships with community partners.
In fulfilling our mission, our core programs support and advance a holistic admissions framework that translates into the development and construction of a diverse student community. In turn, this strengthens the quality of the learning environment. We are proud that our programs continue to promote diverse health profession pipeline initiatives which serve to enhance both interest and access to careers in medicine among communities that are disadvantaged and/or underrepresented. This fosters a culture of inclusion and engagement for all members of our institution’s educational community. The office has formal educational partnerships with all health professions schools within the LSU Health Sciences Center, as well as the New Orleans Public Schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Predominantly Black Institutions in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, other Louisiana undergraduate institutions, and community physician organizations.
As part of our ongoing and continuous pipeline activities to develop a more competitive applicant pool, the ODCE facilitates a range of structured and unstructured activities. ODCE programmatic activities include: K-12 Science Clubs; Career Awareness Days; after-school science and math programs for middle school students; Summer Science Research Programs for middle and high school students; year-round medical school applicant counseling (including mock interview experiences and personal statement development); incoming medical students’ Pre-Matriculation program; USMLE, Step I review resources; and Residency Counseling for LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) medical students. Additionally, ODCE is currently in the process of restoring its pre-medical advisor workshops for collegiate academic counselors, faculty, and administrators, to provide them with adequate information about LSUHSC programs for advising their students and to further strengthen their communication with LSUHSC.
As of September 2016, the newest programmatic activity scheduled for the dates of May 30th through July 7, 2017, is the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health, Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). SHPEP is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is a collaboration between our Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health, with support from our Center for Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice, and our HBCU partner Xavier University at Louisiana, College of Pharmacy. This program is a free summer enrichment program designed to improve access to information and resources for college students attending either four-year or community college institutions, who are interested in the health professions. The goal of SHPEP is to support the academic and career development of underrepresented/underserved, and/or rural, and/or disadvantaged students in the health professions, thereby preparing them for a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. Formerly known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, the SHPEP was expanded in 2016 to include a broader scope of health professions. For additional information on SHPEP, please refer to http://www.shpep.org/, as well as our LSUHSC site webpage, http://www.shpep.org/site/louisiana-state-university-health-sciences-center/.