Jerry C. Johnson, M.D., Project Director
The Center of Excellence Program (COE), authorized by section 736 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C.293), supports programs of excellence in health professions education for individuals from racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in the health professions workforce. The ultimate goal of the COE program is to strengthen the national capacity to produce a diverse culturally competent health workforce that represents the U.S. population. Indeed the COE programs are congruent with three of the recommendations of the landmark Institute of Medicine study of health disparities:
- increasing the proportion of US racial and ethnic minorities among health professionals,
- integrating cross-cultural education in the training of all current and future health professionals, and
- conducting research to identify sources of racial and ethnic disparities.
Center of Excellence programs provide a comprehensive array of programs that impact on all factors related to the training of health professionals: recruitment and training of health professions students (from the secondary school through health professions school), recruitment and training of minority faculty, modifications of health professions curricula to improve clinical education and cultural competence, and research on health issues particularly affecting minorities.
Initiated in September 1993, under a grant from the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, the Center of Excellence at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, aims to establish, facilitate, and conduct programs that will enhance the health of under-represented minorities, particularly African-American and Hispanics, by training minority medical students and medical faculty for leadership positions in the health professions workforce, by facilitating research on minority health issues, and by encouraging modifications in curricula to respond to the needs for cross cultural education. The Center's models of faculty development, cross-cultural medical education and minority health research have been disseminated regionally and nationally. Since its inception in 1993, the Center has implemented two intensive longitudinal secondary training programs (one predominantly African-American and other predominantly Hispanic); maintained an URM student enrollment above the national average; increased the URM faculty enrollment in the standing faculty tracks of the School of Medicine from 27 to 171; implemented curricular changes related to minority health and cultural competence involving the entire medical student class; and has facilitated campus-wide minority health disparities research programs. In summary, the Center facilitates the training of primary care physicians; ensures that practitioners acquire the skills to practice in a culturally competent manner; and facilitates research necessary to provide high quality health care to minorities.