Outreach Programs as a Source of Income for Medical School Diversity and Inclusion Offices : Academic Medicine

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Letters to the Editor

Outreach Programs as a Source of Income for Medical School Diversity and Inclusion Offices

Prakash, Nirmala PhD1; Carlock, Hunter R.2; Alleyasin, Tara3; Rootes, Alicia MBA4

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Academic Medicine 97(12):p 1728-1729, December 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004967
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To the Editor:

Diversity and inclusion offices play a pivotal role in medical education institutions by ensuring students learn how to care for underrepresented and marginalized populations through programs aimed at community outreach, health disparities, and social justice. 1 Collaboration between K-12 schools and medical institutions is essential to creating programs that both encourage diversity within the medical profession and care for populations underrepresented in medicine. 2 In an era of limited funding, collaborative programs often rely on grant dollars to fund programming and salary. Once funding is exhausted, they often seek more grant funding, thus repeating a cycle of financial unsustainability. To curtail this cycle, we propose a solution for diversity offices to develop a revenue stream so that they are not dependent on limited grant funds or university allocations.

Through partnerships between the local school district and our university, we developed a pay-to-play outreach program using career and technical education (CTE) funding from the 2006 Carl D. Perkins CTE Improvement Act. This act provides funds to secondary schools for programs aimed at guiding students to be successful in high-demand careers, 3 and we used it as a source of revenue at our university, a relatively new community-based medical school (COM).

We completed the following steps to develop the funding for our outreach programs. First, we pursued startup grant funding to cover initial program expenses. Second, we established auxiliary accounts and e-stores through COM finance to receive payments and pay invoices seamlessly. Third, once financial accounts were set up, we negotiated with school district administrators to pay for program costs—creatively using CTE funding streams. Fourth, once budgets were established, we met with school administrators to receive input on curriculum and fill in educational gaps. Finally, we followed up with school administrator meetings with invoice and scope of work documents, and we ensured logistical planning was in place for program success. Our outreach programs have included medical student-led anatomy labs for local high school students, college application preparatory courses, science supplementary lectures, simulated patient interactions, and informational sessions on health professions career pathways.

Nine schools (823 unique students) paid for outreach programming, with revenue totaling $72,745 for 2019 and $51,269 for 2020. This revenue covered 46.1% and 30.8% of total COM diversity office expenses for 2019 and 2020, respectively. With unrestricted funds provided through community-engaged programming, state funds previously used for outreach program expenses were used to further other diversity goals at COM such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender standardized patient encounters; public health fieldwork experiences; and diversity research stipends for medical students. We hope that this model for self-sustainable revenue may be used at other medical school diversity offices to relieve financial burden and expand diversity goals.

References

1. Whitla DK, Orfield G, Silen W, Teperow C, Howard C, Reede J. Educational benefits of diversity in medical school: A survey of students. Acad Med. 2003;78:460–466.
2. Smith SG, Nsiah-Kumi PA, Jones PR, Pamies RJ. Pipeline programs in the health professions, part 1: Preserving diversity and reducing health disparities. J Natl Med Assoc. 2009;101:836–840.
3. 109th Congress of the United States of America. Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-109s250enr/pdf/BILLS-109s250enr.pdf. Published 2006. Accessed August 31, 2022.
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