The California Department of Health Care Access and Information announced $40.8 million in grants to 20 organizations that support and encourage students from underrepresented regions and backgrounds to pursue health care careers, including Fresno State.
Fresno State will receive a $2.9 million award over five years, to be issued through the Health Professions Pathways Program. Other California state universities awarded include California State University, Dominguez Hills ($3.3 million), San Diego State University ($2.5 million) and California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt Foundation Sponsored Programs ($498,000).
“The Health Professions Pathways Program will strengthen existing relationships and support the building of new partnerships,” said Lilia DeLaCerda, the project’s principal investigator and director of the Health Career Opportunity Program at Fresno State.
Since health professionals are more likely to practice where they graduated or grew up, facilitating the successful admission of more Fresno State graduates into health professional programs “is our best available strategy to address health care shortages in the Central Valley,” she said.
The Health Professions Pathways program is one part of a larger $1.4 billion “Workforce for a Healthy California for All” initiative that aims to address workforce shortages in health and human services.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula wrote, “These efforts are helping to build the health care workforce that is needed in our state and even more so in the Central Valley.”
Fresno State’s Health Career Pathways Program will be housed with the Health Career Opportunities Program on campus and will support underrepresented and/or disadvantaged high school and college-level students from the San Joaquin Valley who aspire to give back to their communities as primary care physicians. dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, optometrists, chiropractors, clinical laboratory scientists, clinical psychologists/behavioral health practitioners, pediatricians, and public health specialists.
“These residents are among the most medically unwell in the state and … some of the poorest and most economically disadvantaged in the entire country,” DeLaCerda said. “Our program will emphasize engagement, recruitment and support of underrepresented and disadvantaged students interested in pursuing health care careers.”
Current recruitment and academic programs will be enhanced with peer mentoring, test preparation, internships, academic advising and health conferences. New internships and additional programs will be created at high schools and community colleges, along with activities to empower Fresno State students to become competitive health professional school applicants.