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SHSU Receives $400,000 For Minority Health Research, Education

Sept. 4, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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headshot Rosanne Keathley
Rosanne Keathley

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded Sam Houston State University a $400,000 minority health research and education grant, which will provide coordinated career guidance for students from a Houston high school, through community college, to the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration at SHSU.

The Pathways to Allied Health Success program—known also as the PALS program—will partner the SHSU College of Health Sciences with the Sanchez Charter School in Houston, Houston Community College-Coleman College, and Memorial Hermann Health System.

The grant will fund the program for two years, from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2016.

“The program targets Hispanic and African American students because their ethnic groups are underrepresented in the health care professions and because Texas has such a diverse population,” said Rosanne Keathley, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences and director of the PALS project.

“One of our goals is to equip students in these groups with the skills they need to not only be successful in school, but be a viable part of the Texas health care workforce,” said Keathley.

In each year of the grant, 10 students from Sanchez, whose enrollment is 98 percent Hispanic, will be recruited for PALS to matriculate into one of several allied health degree programs offered by Coleman, including tracks for medical assistant, dental assistant, pharmacy technician, surgical technology, and vocational nursing.

“Selection of the 10 from Sanchez will be based on recommendations, grade point average, experience in which the student has volunteered and conducted civic engagement activities with health care agencies, and other variables deemed appropriate by the selection committee,” said Keathley. “It could be volunteering with the Red Cross, the March of Dimes, or M. D. Anderson, or any of the hospitals in the area.”

Learning coaches and career coordinators will mentor and offer guidance to the students so that they will have the skills and competencies needed for academic success when they go to Coleman.

“That’s where Memorial Hermann Health System will come in,” said Keathley. “They are our industrial partner and they will provide job shadowing, mentoring and internships for the students, not only in Hermann’s hospitals, but also in their clinics. Having them as an industrial partner is going to be a huge asset to our students—at Sanchez, HCC-Coleman and Sam Houston State University, as well.”

In addition, 10 Hispanic and African-American allied health students at Coleman will be advised and mentored through a career guidance and assessment program to complete their Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration at SHSU. By the end of the second year, 40 students will be in the program.

Classes will be available both in the traditional classroom format and online, so that students will also be able to work.

“We know that many times, students get so caught up in their jobs that they want to drop out of school to work full time,” said Keathley. “At first, it sounds good, but in the long run it really hurts them. This is a plan where they can work and increase their experience in a health-related field, as well as receive mentoring, earn their degree, and learn skills that will benefit them in the future.”

In addition, she said, the grant will help move students out of low-end jobs and into administrative and professional careers in the health care work force.

PALS will also incorporate innovative strategies such as inviting parents of the students to participate in the program.

“We will ask them to attend meetings with their children to learn about career choices in health care, the money that can be made, and all the opportunities available for minorities, especially if they are culturally competent and are bilingual,” said Keathley. “We will also have activities to include parents. We want them to be a partner with us in this part of their child’s education.”

The program will also bring students from Sanchez to the SHSU campus from time to time, which Keathley feels is an important component for success.

“For some, it will be their first experience seeing a college campus, or at least a campus outside of Houston,” she said. “Not only will we be going to them, they will be coming to us.”

Administrators hope that the program will eventually be self-sustaining. They also expect to see a cycle of success for it.

“PALS is a good acronym for the program because the students who participate will have learning and career pals to mentor and support them from high school, to community college, through graduation at SHSU,” Keathley said. “Then, once the students become health care administrators, they can go back to their schools and neighborhoods and plant the seed for younger students to start thinking about careers in the health fields."

 

 

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