The mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Health Program (UHP) is to recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, into the health professions. The UHP seeks to expand educational and research opportunities for these populations, at all academic levels (including pre-college students), in order to develop underrepresented racial/ethnic minority health care professionals, faculty and researchers with the goals of eliminating health disparities and advancing health equity.
For over 30 years, the UIC-COM has taken a proactive stance on the admission and education of students from underrepresented disadvantaged backgrounds. In 1969, the College initiated the Medical Opportunities Program (MOP). The goal of the MOP was to increase the number of applicants and matriculants from minority groups underrepresented in the medical profession. It represents a tangible commitment by the College to increase the admission, retention, and graduation of Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans from its M.D. program. The ultimate goal if the MOP was to train a cadre of minority physicians, who would help alleviate the health care needs of unreserved communities in the city of Chicago and the rest of Illinois.
In 1978, the Illinois State Assembly voted to establish the Urban Health Program (UHP). The UHP is unlike any program in the country and was recently named the best program of its kind by the consortium of Urban Serving Universities.The UHP began with Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Nursing. The first cohort of UHP students enrolled in the Fall of 1979. Now UHP has expanded to all health professional colleges/schools plus the Graduate College. UIC has become one of the nation’s leaders in graduating minority health care providers due in large part to UHP. From the introduction of the Medical Opportunities Program (MOP) to the UHP, the goals have been to recruit qualified underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students, facilitate their entry to health professions through academic and professional development, and provide a supportive learning environment conducive to student education and graduation as culturally competent and sensitive practitioners.
The UIC-COM UHP is the largest Urban Health Program; assisting in the recruitment, retention and graduation of about 300 underrepresented minority students from UIC-COM each year. There is an UHP Academic Skills Office located at each of UIC-COM educational sites (i.e. Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, and Urbana). The establishment of the Urban Health provided a foundation with a strong track record for the education of minority physicians. Since 1989, the UHP has continued to refine and improve its efforts to remain a national leader in the education of minority physicians. Since 1973, the UIC College of Medicine UHP has assisted in the graduation nearly 2,500 minority MDs.
The following points describe how the combined efforts of the UHP in UICCOM along with other diversity programs educational and training initiatives contribute to the recruitment, retention and graduation of URM and disadvantaged groups in medicine and dentistry:
- Since 1969, the number of URM students in the UICCOM has risen from 10% to ~22% of the class.
- In 2008, UICCOM had the largest Latino incoming class in the country with 51 of 308 total medical students enrolled. UIC Latino admissions outnumbered those of Texas, California, New York and Florida. In 2007, the UICCOD enrollment of 17.6% was the second highest in the school’s history.
- In 2009, UICCOM ranked #1 behind the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Howard, Meharry, and Morehouse) in the number of African American graduates, ranks first (along with UT San Antonio) with the highest number of Hispanic graduates, and ranks second in total number of minority graduates.
- 33 African American and 40 Hispanics of 301 graduates received their MD degree from UICCOM in 2008 (about 21% of all degrees granted).
- 70% of URM physicians practicing in Illinois are graduates of UICCOM. There are seven medical schools in the state