Objective: Although health disparities research has already contributed to decreased mortality and morbidity in underserved communities, more work is needed. The NYC Epi Scholars program of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) aims to address gaps in critical public health needs and to train future public health leaders in epidemiology. The program is designed to increase racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the public health workforce, to provide fieldwork and practica opportunities, and to cultivate future leaders in epidemiology and public health.
Methods: Since its inception in 2007, the NYC Epi Scholars program of the NYC DOHMH has sought talented epidemiology students interested in gaining practical experience in applied health disparities research. NYC Epi Scholars is open to graduate epidemiology students who have demonstrated achievement and leadership potential and gives them an opportunity to provide high-quality research assistance to projects that identify and address health disparities of public health significance.
Results: Many of the program's 32 alumni have made notable contributions to public health: publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals; making presentations at national and international conferences; and after graduating, pursuing careers at the DOHMH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institutes of Health.
Conclusions: Because of its noted success, the NYC Epi Scholars program may serve as a “best-practice” model for expansion in other urban health departments.