Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342863

Title: Summer research training provides effective tools for underrepresented minorities to obtain doctoral level degrees

item ASOJO, OLUWATOYIN - Baylor College Of Medicine
item DAMANIA, ASHISH - Baylor College Of Medicine
item TURNER, TERI - Texas Children'S Hospital
item SLAUGHTER, GAYLE - Baylor College Of Medicine
item HIRSCHI, KENDAL - Baylor College Of Medicine

Submitted to: Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2016
Publication Date: 1/11/2017
Citation: Asojo, O.A., Damania, A., Turner, T.L., Slaughter, G., Hirschi, K.D. 2017. Summer research training provides effective tools for underrepresented minorities to obtain doctoral level degrees. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. doi:10.1007/s40615-016-0330-0.

Interpretive Summary: The US biomedical workforce remains significantly less diverse than the general population. Undergraduate research programs are routinely used as tools to recruit a more diverse biomedical workforce. The objective of this work was to evaluate the long-term educational advancement of participants from the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM)'s Summer Medical and Research Training (SMART) Program. A long-term evaluation of the 1998-2002 SMART program was undertaken. We found that 69% of all participants completed doctoral level degrees in Biomedical Sciences significantly higher than students who were not enroll in the program. Participants with different gender, ethnicity, educational background, and who attained comparable percentages of post-graduate Biomedical degrees. This study shows that a 9-week training program can prepare diverse groups of undergraduates for success in biomedical training.

Technical Abstract: The ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity of the USA is not reflected in its healthcare and biomedical workforce. Undergraduate research programs are used to encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue training for biomedical careers, but there is limited published data on doctoral degree completion rates by participants in these programs. This study evaluates the attainment of doctoral degrees by a NIH-funded cohort of undergraduates from the 1998-2002 Baylor College of Medicine's Summer Medical Research Training (SMART) program. Variables collected included race, ethnicity, gender, tier status of undergraduate institution, and terminal degree status. The majority of cohort participants were underrepresented minorities, while the rest were socio-economically underserved, or first generation college students. Of the 163 participants, 65 (56%) were confirmed to have completed doctoral level biomedical or healthcare degrees: 48 MDs (41%), 22 PhDs (19%), 4 MD/PhDs (3%), and 1 PharmD (1%). There was no statistical significant difference in doctoral degree attainment based on gender, ethnicity, or tier status of participants. The completion rates of doctoral degrees by underrepresented minority participants (65%) in this program exceeds that of underrepresented minority graduate students (38%) and that of non-minority graduate students (51%) nationally based on National Science Foundation data for US citizens and permanent residents, suggesting that this 9-week summer research experience provides a pathway for underrepresented minorities to successfully attain the doctoral degrees required for careers in the health sciences.