Policy Studies Center awarded $1.85 million HRSA grant to prepare students for careers in healthcare


UTSA Today story by Jesus Chavez, Public Affairs Specialist II, UTSA University Communications

(Sept. 15, 2015) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Policy Studies Center has been awarded $1.85 million in funding over three years by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to prepare economically disadvantaged high school and university students for careers in the healthcare industry.

The San Antonio Pathway to the Health Professions (SAPHP) Project, led by UTSA in collaboration with several community organizations, is creating two pathway programs for area students interested in breaking into the health professions.

Each year, UTSA will recruit 150 economically disadvantaged juniors and seniors from four area high schools – Thomas A. Edison High School, Louis W. Fox Technical High School, Harlandale High School and Dillard McCollum High School – to participate in the SAPHP’s high school-focused pathway program. At its peak, the program will also recruit 75 undergraduate UTSA students on track to attending medical school after graduation for a parallel university-focused pathway program.

Over the next three years, UTSA Policy Studies Center director Roger Enriquez, coordinator Dr. Miguel Bedolla M.D. and their partners will provide support for the students through stipends and scholarships, training, mentorship, workshops, standardized testing preparation, and hands-on clinical education and experiences.

By the end of the three-year period, Enriquez and Bedolla predict that a minimum of 475 students will have participated in SAPHP Project. The hope is that the majority of these students matriculate into medical school or a related health-focused program.

“By fostering success in our youth, we can benefit the entire community,” said Enriquez. “Our research suggests that students from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods will be more likely to return there to provide health services. We aim to not only diversify the healthcare industry but also give students the help they need to one day care for their communities.”

In the coming semester, the SAPHP Project will finalize the curricula for the high school and university pathways and begin training participating faculty in the program specifications. According to Bedolla, recruitment of high school and university students has already begun. The first cohort is expected in summer 2016.

“Through health science education, Edison High School and other San Antonio students will understand how preparation and contributions can positively impact not only their lives but the lives of others around them,” said Hector Flores, assistant principal of Thomas A. Edison High School. “There is no limit to what our students can accomplish.”

The UTSA Policy Studies Center leads this program in collaboration with the university’s Office of P-20 Initiatives, Health Professions Office, University College and Department of Interdisciplinary Learning, and community partners from the University Health System of San Antonio. An advisory board made up of UTSA and high school administrators, representatives from partnering health care organizations and community members will oversee the project’s development and implementation.

 About the HRSA Grant

The San Antonio Pathway to the Health Professions project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health Services under D18HP29046 and Health Careers Opportunity Program. The information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About UTSA

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 29,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property – for Texas, the nation and the world.