The United States population is projected to be more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060 than it is today. Significant disparities remain in the public health workforce, despite persistent recommendations for increasing its diversity with greater representation of racial and ethnic minority populations. The global COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the declining public health workforce and highlighted the need for increasing its diversity. Addressing public health workforce shortages and health disparities in an increasingly diverse society presents opportunities for community college graduates and undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to engage with public health professionals to pique their interest in working in the field. An introduction to public health as a career option is key for expanding the workforce. Conferred degrees in public health at the undergraduate and graduate levels has increased, yet few graduates enter governmental public health careers even as the demand has risen. Additionally, there is a mismatch between the skills needed in governmental public health versus training in degree programs to explain the gaps in public health employment. Training programs that align with skills needed for employment in traditional public health sectors are warranted.
The current application builds on the success of the Michigan FPHLP to deliver a 10-week summer training program for up to 50 participants each year from underrepresented and socially disadvantaged backgrounds to address the public health workforce and diversity shortages. The training will immerse participants in experiential learning with multifaceted mentorship approach to explore health equity and minority health. The program is grounded in public health competencies and strategic skills to increase awareness, knowledge and interest in public health that will be evaluated for program effectiveness and participant outcomes. As part of the initial Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) program designed to increase students’ interest and pursuit in public health careers, we are submitting a continuation of this work under the new CDC John R. Lewis Undergraduate Scholars Program (Lewis Scholars Program). The inclusion and expansion of additional socially disadvantaged populations (i.e. students with disabilities, members of gender & sexual minorities, low English proficiency, U.S. territories and tribal communities) will provide great opportunities for continuing our work for introducing the public health to a wider audience.
Purpose: The purpose of the Michigan FPHLP is to expose 2-year junior college graduates, 4-year undergraduate college juniors and seniors, and recent postgraduates to critical issues and skills to address minority health and health equity as preparation for the public health workforce. This pipeline-training program will address Healthy People 2030’s goal to achieve health equity, eliminate health disparities and improve the health of all groups by expanding the public health pipeline and monitoring the education of the public health workforce.
Outcomes: Michigan FPHLP began in 2012 as part of the CUPS with three other national training programs followed by an addition of a fifth program in 2017. The current CUPS program has prepared more than 1000 participants from underrepresented backgrounds for careers in public health. Based on process and outcome evaluation findings from our previously conducted Michigan FPHLP programs, we adapted the CDC Lewis Scholars logic model for short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes that will guide the proposed program.