Deshadia Lowery of Orrville is one of 27 high school students and recent graduates from rural Alabama participating in annual programs this summer at The University of Alabama where they learn about the need rural communities have for more doctors and other health care professionals.
Through the Minority Rural Health Scholars Program and Rural Health Scholars Program, both part of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, 27 high school students and recent graduates spend five weeks on the UA campus taking college courses for credit and learning how to prepare to enter health professions education and training.
The goal of the programs is to encourage rural Alabama high school students to consider health care professions. With funding for the programs from the Alabama Family Practice Rural Health Board, students do not have to pay for tuition, housing and field trips.
“Rural Health Scholars and Minority Rural Health Scholars programs are great opportunities for students from rural Alabama to learn about different health careers,” said Cynthia Moore, assistant director of Rural High School Programs for UA’s College of Community Health Sciences. “The students have enjoyed the seminars and learned a lot from the speakers.”
The two programs are part of the college’s nationally recognized Rural Health Leaders Pipeline and offered in collaboration with Alabama Area Health Education Centers.
AHECs were created by Congress in 1971 to increase the quantity, diversity and distribution of health care professionals, especially in rural and underserved areas.
The Minority Rural Health Scholars Program seeks to increase the number of minority students from rural Alabama who qualify for admission to medical school. The program is for high school graduates who, in addition to taking classes at UA, also are provided tutorials to enhance their knowledge and test-taking skills to achieve competitive scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT. They also shadow physicians and other health care professionals.
The Rural Health Scholars Program aims to provide opportunities for rising high school seniors from rural communities in Alabama to pursue careers in medicine and other health care professions. Students take college courses, participate in seminars with practicing health care professionals and visit health care facilities.
Moore said this summer the students, who had spent the past year taking their high school classes on Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “had to learn how to readjust to attending in-person classes and adapting to different teaching styles.”
The mission of the college is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in rural Alabama and the Southeast region through leadership in medical and health-related education, primary care and population health; the provision of high-quality, accessible health care services; and research and scholarship.