Background: Minorities are underrepresented in health professions and efforts to recruit minority students into health careers are considered a way to reduce health disparities. There is little research about the effectiveness of these programs, other than satisfaction. This study aimed to measure program effects on student understanding of and interest in health careers.
Methods: Students took a career interest inventory, completed a scale measuring their self-reported understanding and interest in health careers, and wrote essays about health careers before and after completing a 1 week on campus internship on health careers and after a 9 month follow up distance mentoring program where they continued to interact with university faculty by videoconference about career options. Changes in inventory, scale, and essay scores were analyzed for changes over time using Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney tests.
Results: Inventory scores were unchanged over time, but scale and essay scores trended upward significantly post internship and mentoring.
Conclusion: Health career education and mentoring programs can positively affect student knowledge of health careers and their attitudes about them. The study's methods extend measures of program impact beyond satisfaction.
Keywords: Distance mentoring; Health career education; Health disparities; Minority students.