Mount Sinai School of Medicine Awarded More Than $2 Million to Continue The Northeast Regional Alliance Health Careers Opportunity Program

The renewal funding was made possible through a grant from the Health Career Opportunity Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

New York
 – October 19, 2011 /Press Release/  –– 

Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs (CMCA) was recently awarded a three-year, $2 million renewal grant to continue The Northeast Regional Alliance (NERA) Health Careers Opportunity Program, an initiative that encourages disadvantaged students to pursue medical careers. The renewal funding was made possible through a grant from the Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, racial and ethnic minorities make up 29 percent of the U.S. population, but only 12.4 percent of such students graduate from medical schools. NERA offers participants a structured program delivered over three summers, and provides them with academic enrichment, MCAT instruction, primary care clinical exposure, and mentored research. The curriculum focuses on primary care and community medicine—two areas where there is a dire need for physicians—to encourage students to give back to their own communities.

Since it was established in 2008, NERA partners – which include Mount Sinai; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; UMDNJ/New Jersey Medical School;, and the Manhattan Staten Island Area Health Education Center (MSI AHEC)—have helped 400 students annually in structured programs through a comprehensive network of academic medical centers, public schools, undergraduate schools, and the MSI AHEC to advance diversity in the health professions.

"Thanks to this renewed funding, we will continue to support those individuals who are from educationally and economically disadvantaged groups, and more particularly to assist in identifying, recruiting, preparing, and facilitating access and development of these individuals through graduation from medical school," said Gary Butts, MD, Director of the CMCA and Associate Dean for Diversity Policy, Programs, and Community Affairs at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Ultimately, we expect that our students will have the humanism, professionalism and interpersonal skills required of a future physician caring for a diverse population."

With the renewed funding, NERA will focus more explicitly on targeting junior college students and students from the City University system, and will expand formal mentoring for college, junior high, and high school programs.

"This collaboration brings together three academic medical centers with the same goal of providing education and opportunities necessary to expand the community of providers dedicated to eliminating health care disparities. Combining the strengths of each institution creates a unique and effective partnership," said Hilda Hutcherson, MD, Associate Dean, Office of Diversity at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"At a time when funding is scarce, this unique collaboration presents a coup for promising youngsters," said Maria Soto-Greene, MD, Vice Dean of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. "Once competitors for this type of funding, we are now partners with a shared goal of helping those who would otherwise have limited opportunities to explore and become competitive applicants for careers in medicine and science."

Other components of the program include: cultural competency training for high school and college students and a pre-matriculation program for incoming medical students.

"The program helps level the playing field for disadvantaged students and creates a pipeline to help youngsters navigate the challenging path to health-related careers," said Mary Mitchell, Executive Director of the MSI AHEC.  "MSI AHEC is uniquely aware of the significance of recruiting and engaging minority high school students in health professions education programs, and we are proud to support this collaboration."  

The CMCA at Mount Sinai School of Medicine serves as the interface for educational pipeline programs, minority affairs, and institution-wide diversity initiatives, and provides academic support for medical students, as well as faculty development.  

The CMCA’s mission is to improve community health outcomes, and reduce race and ethnic health outcome disparities by increasing health care workforce diversity, encourage scientific inquiry, and influence health policy. The CMCA offers a range of programs for groups as young as middle school students.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. 

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Of the top 20 hospitals in the United States, Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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