Brand New Program Seeks to Address the Diversity Gap in Medicine

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Students in Nebraska are getting a chance to be a part of a new collaborative designed to address the State’s healthcare needs.

The program, called the Urban Health Opportunities Program (UHOP), is a joint initiative between the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), began this year with students starting their freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years and provided them all with scholarships that not only guarantees admission to UNMC’s College of Medicine upon graduation, but would also cover their tuition. “The UHOP program is another example of how two wonderful institutions, UNO and UNMC, can leverage their strengths and help address community needs by working together,” said Paul Davis, UHOP coordinator and associate professor of biology at UNO. “It’s a win on both sides.”

Prior to the launch of UHOP, a significant number of the high school students in Nebraska who were interested in pursing careers in medicine left the state. “Our metropolitan mission has always been to provide access to a premier education for students, regardless of their background, and UHOP is a great example of those efforts,” UNO Chancellor John Christensen said. “I am extremely excited to be working with our partners at UNMC to provide this opportunity to our students.”

added UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. Unlike many other programs with similar models, students do not need to meet any specific requirements to apply. “instead, Davis says applicants are chosen for their unique backgrounds, commitment to success, and desire to leverage their experiences to comfort and treat patients of all ages, genders, nationalities and sexual orientations.”

“Diversity in the medical clinic is vital, as physicians see a wide variety of patients from all walks of life,” Davis said. “Equally vital is diversity among medical school classmates, who learn to value and appreciate social and cultural differences and customs, in turn making them better physicians.” For more information about UHOP, visit cas.unomaha.edu/uhop.

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