Health Sciences Center Awarded $3 Million To Increase New Mexico Health Workforce Diversity

The UNM Health Sciences Center’s Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has been awarded a five-year, $3.2 million federal grant for a new initiative to promote the number and diversity of health professionals in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Health Careers Opportunities Program (HCOP) Academy, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), aims to expand opportunities for people from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue health professions careers.

“The HCOP Academy will create an architecture of new and enhanced programs spanning the entire state and weave together programs, resources and partnerships fostered over the years to build sustainable, multi-level, multi-collaborator capacity,” said Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD, the Health Sciences Center’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity.

The grant will bring together the Office for Diversity, the Office for Community Health and the Area Health Education Center to build upon decades of leading-edge HSC and state programming around equity and diversity in the health professions.

“The academy will focus on recruitment, retention, matriculation and graduation,” said Romero-Leggott, the grant’s co-principal investigator. “It will apply evidence-based pedagogy, curricula and programming to meet the growing need for well-qualified, diverse health professionals in our state’s medically underserved communities. All academy program participants will receive training in opioid abuse and mental and behavioral health issues.”

The HCOP Academy will offer more than 800 educationally and economically disadvantaged students interested in health professions access to an improved system of supports designed to improve their educational achievement, said Diana Martinez, MPH, the Office of Diversity’s director of programs and co-principal investigator.

“We are thrilled that HRSA has decided to invest in New Mexico and look forward to working with our many partners to sustain the Academy for years to come,” she said.

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