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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ad1cb1
Minority Faculty

Reducing Health Disparities Through a Culturally Centered Mentorship Program for Minority Faculty: The Southwest Addictions Research Group (SARG) Experience

Viets, Vanessa Lopez PhD; Baca, Catherine MD; Verney, Steven P. PhD; Venner, Kamilla PhD; Parker, Tassy PhD; Wallerstein, Nina DrPH

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Abstract

Purpose: Ethnic minority faculty members are vastly underrepresented in academia. Yet, the presence of these individuals in academic institutions is crucial, particularly because their professional endeavors often target issues of health disparities. One promising way to attract and retain ethnic minority faculty is to provide them with formal mentorship. This report describes a culturally centered mentorship program, the Southwest Addictions Research Group (SARG, 2003-2007), at the University of New Mexico (UNM) that trained a cadre of minority researchers dedicated to reducing health disparities associated with substance abuse.

Method: The SARG was based at UNM’s School of Medicine’s Institute for Public Health, in partnership with the UNM’s Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions. The program consisted of regular research meetings, collaboration with the Community Advisory Board, monthly symposia with renowned professionals, pilot projects, and conference support. The authors collected data on mentee research productivity as outcomes and conducted separate mentee and mentor focus-group interviews to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the SARG program.

Results: The SARG yielded positive outcomes as evidenced by mentee increase in grant submissions, publications, and professional presentations. Focus-group qualitative data highlighted program and institutional barriers as well as successes that surfaced during the program. Based on this evaluation, a Culturally Centered Mentorship Model (CCMM) emerged.

Conclusions: The CCMM can help counter institutional challenges by valuing culture, community service, and community-based participatory research to support the recruitment and advancement of ethnic minority faculty members in academia.

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges

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