Experiences promoting healthcare career interest among high-school students from underserved communities

J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 Sep;98(9):1523-31.


Promoting early interest in healthcare careers among youth from underserved areas is one promising strategy for addressing the health professional shortage in such communities, Most career choice studies try to predict outcomes using such traditional measures as grades and test scores, This study examines experiences influencing healthcare career interest among high-school students participating in health professions introductory programs in underserved communities. The opinions of parents and teachers regarding students' motivations are also considered. Seven focus groups (N=51) were conducted in one rural and two largely minority urban communities in New York State designated as health professional shortage areas. Qualitative data analysis involved a theory-driven, immersion and crystallization approach following the experiential learning model. Constructive experiences with the healthcare system, family role-modeling and support, interactive health-related school activities, the media, inspirational and accessible school staff, and strategic community partnerships, among other factors, facilitated student interest in health professions. Findings suggest that underserved and disenfranchised community environments still pose challenges for furthering healthcare career interest among youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Health Occupations*
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Motivation*
  • Students / psychology*