Emory School of Medicine establishes academy to help disadvantaged students, Atlanta community

By Catherine Morrow | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Oct. 19, 2018


Holly Korschun

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Yolanda Hood


Emory University School of Medicine has received a five-year, $3.25 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a National HCOP Academy, which will provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged high-school students interested in pursuing health careers.

The National Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) at Emory is a collaborative partnership among Emory University School of Medicine, Laney Graduate School, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Atlanta AHEC and the Urban Health Initiative.

The HCOP Academy will be administered by Yolanda Hood, PhD, director of Emory School of Medicine’s Multicultural Medical Student Affairs and J. William Eley, MD, MPH, executive associate dean for medical education and student affairs.

Hood says the program provides a multitude of educational opportunities for deserving students.

“Activities through the National HCOP Academy at Emory will heighten access to educational opportunities for disadvantaged students by providing mentors, college readiness education, health profession exposure and scholarships,” says Hood.

“Programs like this enhance access to educational opportunities for students.  This effort also provides a valuable means for Emory students, faculty and staff to contribute to the Atlanta community.”

The grant will serve as an expansion of the current HCOP-funded Emory Pipeline Collaborative (EPIC) and MedPREP programs. This recent expansion will greatly increase the number of disadvantaged students able to participate, and will expand to include non-traditional students, including veterans, and already-admitted undergraduate students.

According to Hood, the Pipeline Program originally began with less than 25 students from South Atlanta High School. Since 2015, over 75 students per year from five Atlanta High Schools have participated in EPIC. The new funding, in collaboration with already-established EPIC and MedPREP programs, has the potential to help 300 students over the five-year funding period.

HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, explains the importance of such grants given to eligible schools and programs.

“These awards will play a key role in addressing health care disparities and increasing the diversity of the health professions,” says Wakefield.

“They will give students from disadvantaged backgrounds the support they need to enter the health professions, and help ensure the make-up of the health workforce better reflects our diverse population.”

In addition to providing core academic courses, study skills workshops and parental and near-peer support, the grant will also deliver innovative learning techniques, such as simulated clinical experiences and primary care exposure for all participants.

“This enhanced model will build on Emory’s distinctive qualities, including its emphasis on research training as well as a noted focus on care of the underserved,” says Hood.

To get more information about the HCOP Academy at Emory, email epicprogram@emory.edu