If we want to remain in the forefront of biomedicine in this country, it’s imperative that we start making the sciences an educational priority and connecting the dots between jobs of the future.
Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) December 19, 2013
With the growing need to build synergy between U.S. Hispanic patients and the medical community, healthcare leaders from City of Hope, Citrus Valley Health Partners, Duarte Unified School District, Pew Hispanic Center, and the Texas Medical Association as well as prominent subject matter experts participated in a forum, Strengthening the Hispanic Pipeline in Healthcare and Biomedical Fields, on December 2nd.
In an effort to continue the conversation stemming from the forum, Dr. Susan Kane, a faculty member in City of Hope’s Graduate School of Biological Sciences, who teaches and trains graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and mentors high school and college students through a 10-week summer internship program, published an article on HealthyHispanicLiving.com to shed light on this important topic. “If we want to remain in the forefront of biomedicine in this country, it’s imperative that we start making the sciences an educational priority and connecting the dots between jobs of the future,” explains Dr. Kane, who received her Bachelor’s of Science in biology from Stanford University, her PhD in biology from Johns Hopkins University and conducted her postdoctoral in molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute, “particularly in science and engineering – and the students who will make up tomorrow’s workforce, which means reaching out to the Hispanic population.”
With only 31 percent of bachelor’s degrees given in the fields of science and engineering in the United States, leading cancer and research institutes such as City of Hope have had to resort to recruiting not only beyond outside county lines but outside the country in order to fill research positions and graduate student admissions. Consequently, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has stated that in order for the U.S. to remain globally competitive in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the country will need to train 1 million STEM professionals over the next 10 years – a tall order. However, as the U.S. undergoes its demographic shift, the growing number of Hispanics, who will comprise 30 percent of the population by 2050, are fast becoming the natural resource the country needs to leverage to sustain and advance America's healthcare system.
While the number of American students pursuing advanced degrees in graduate school in the sciences has increased by 80 percent between 1980 and 2011, the number of foreign students doing similar graduate work in the U.S., grew by more than 200 percent over the same time period. Additionally, currently only 9 percent of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees and just under 4 percent of science and engineering doctoral degrees go to Hispanics, with another 8 percent and 3 percent respectively, going to African Americans. Simultaneously, the healthcare and biomedical fields are growing and need to fill a wide range of jobs and career positions.
More importantly that mere growing number of Hispanics is the capital intelligence they bring to the table. A diverse workforce is much more likely to pursue biomedical research problems that address and ultimately reduce health disparities that persist among many minority communities. Diversity is also critical for maximizing creativity and innovation in the research setting and for broadening the scope of inquiry into new areas of investigation. “It’s important not just to fill positions, but to fill them with people who mirror the community we serve,” says Dr. Kane, who shares that the City of Hope catchment area has a 47 percent Hispanic population. “The value of having a diverse workforce is that they bring different perspectives to the table – especially ones that are specific to their culture, customs, lifestyles and backgrounds – and this in turn can play a crucial role in treatment and cures.”
But how to best attract Hispanics into STEM fields? Adds Dr. Kane, “We must start early in the pipeline, encouraging young people toward the sciences through mentoring, role models and programs that promote healthcare and biomedicine as a viable and rewarding career path. To be most effective, this outreach, education and career development must start young and it must continue throughout the student’s educational journey.”
Dr. Kane knows the value of starting young. In a partnership with the Duarte Unified School District (DUSD) in Duarte, California, Dr. Kane spearheads the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Collaborative, now a formal partnership between DUSD and City of Hope that is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Through this program, every 2nd, 5th and 8th grader in the district is engaged in a variety of science activities and field trips during the school year. Those multiple contacts mean that today’s 2nd graders will have interacted with City of Hope scientists at least three times by the time they reach high school. By high school, rising 11th and 12th grade students from Duarte High School conduct real research on a team-based project related to a fundamental biological process involved in the development of cancer. Students spend eight weeks learning basic laboratory techniques and doing experiments in a highly collaborative and mentored setting. They also learn and practice written and oral presentation skills and they are given information about college and career pathways in the sciences.
“Students learn what it’s like to be a scientist and the skills that go with it, such as critical thinking, how to design an experiment around a hypothesis, implementing the proper controls, analyzing and interpreting data, and presenting their results,” adds Dr. Kane. “The point of the lab experience is not so much teaching specific facts and figures, but more about exposing students to the research thought process and the lifestyle of the career scientist – which is quite different from the work-a-day world – to see if they find it appealing and worth pursuing.”
For more information about HealthyHispanicLiving.com contributor, Dr. Susan Kane, please visit the website and/or email Isabel Goitia at Isabel(at)HealthyHispanicLiving(dot)com or call 678-520-6429.
We’re not just talking about the issues. We’re solving them.
With the goal of developing a culturally-relevant content and communications platform to advance clinical care, research, prevention, education, mental health, financial well-being, nutrition, fitness and outreach to the Latino community, HealthyHispanicLiving (HHL) was launched. As the first-ever preventive care online educational platform targeted to U.S. Hispanics, our aim is to guide Hispanics to live healthier lives and to ensure preventive care engagement and accountability by changing the conversation about health from illness to wellness and providing solutions.
Representing 17 percent of the U.S. population (55 million people), these are the current Hispanic tension points that need to be addressed:
- Lack of targeted healthcare information for Hispanics
- Not enough outreach from the medical to the Hispanic community
- Hispanics have a higher risk of preventable disease, injury, and death
- Low vaccination rates contributing to preventable diseases in Hispanics
- Hispanics need to receive health information in a more timely manner
- The obesity epidemic hit the Hispanic population fast and hard
To develop solutions to these tension points, HHL has brought together healthcare thought-leaders who can provide culturally-relevant insights in order to shift the narrative about Hispanics with the aim of providing real-life solutions and tips to inspire individuals and families to lead healthier lives. To learn more about HHL, visit us at: http://www.HealthyHispanicLiving.com.