As of May 2012, TRAIN has officially concluded year four of the minority outreach initiative, which sought to increase access to advanced study and career opportunities in public health for minorities, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and certain segments of the nation’s Asian/Pacific Islander population, who are not present in significant numbers within the public health workforce. This project was part of a cooperative agreement funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS). The three schools participating in year four were Florida International University (FIU), University of Arizona (UA), and Morgan State University (MSU). All three universities worked collaboratively with PHF and the initiative received useful feedback from all of the students and staff involved. The final report and analysis can be read here.
A cumulative 187 undergraduate students from the three participating schools, which far surpassed the anticipated goal of 35 students per school, completed one of the two courses available on TRAIN (What is Public Health? or Orientation to Public Health). Data were collected on the ethnicity/race of the students, academic year in school, the quality and appropriateness of the two online courses, and whether or not the courses changed the student’s perspective/attitude about entering the public health field. Out of the 187 students who participated, 115 or 62% identified themselves as minorities including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. The quality and appropriateness of the training was found to be “Excellent” by 88 or 47% of the students and “Satisfactory” by 81 or 43% of the students. As far as changing the students’ attitudes/perspectives on entering the field of public health, 110 out of the 187 students answered “Yes,” that it did change their perspective about choosing a career path in public health. So, overall evaluations suggest that most students found the courses to be of quality and to have positively influenced their attitudes/perspectives on pursuing a career or degree in public health.
The evaluations associated with the two courses allowed participating students to provide direct feedback, which, when reviewed, suggests that the minority outreach initiative was well-received. A sample of student comments on the initiative includes the following:
- It made me even more excited about the field and it makes me want to enter the program here at FIU. (FIU)
- It enhanced my perspective of public health. (FIU)
- It changed my perspective/attitude because I now take public health more seriously than I did before completing the course. (MSU)
- This training gives you an insight on the various opportunities public health training has to offer. (MSU)
- It gave me a better idea of what to do with a public health degree. (UA)
- It made me more aware of how integrated public health is in our health systems. (UA)
These comments will be important in assessing the wider impact of this project in motivating minority students to pursue a career in public health. In the final year of this initiative, PHF plans to track the students from FIU, MSU, UA and FAMU, the previous pilot school, to determine whether they have indeed registered for formal public health training and/or if they are still considering public health as a career goal. The TRAIN team invites academic institutions to review the final report and encourage undergraduates interested in public health careers, minority or otherwise, to complete one of the introductory public health trainings available on TRAIN.