Exceeding expectations: Students underrepresented in medicine at university of Utah health

Carolyn Bliss, Nora Wood, Mike Martineau, Kathryn Browning Hawes, Ana María López, José E. Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The University of Utah (UU) serves an in-creasingly diverse state and houses the only public medical school, dental school, and college of pharmacy in the state. Utah’s diversity in the health professions lags behind the diversity of its general population, and the nation. METHODS: The Health Sciences Learning, Engagement, Achievement, and Prog-ress (HS-LEAP) Program is a 4-year undergraduate pipeline program intended to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the health professions, specifically focused on students underrepresented in medicine (URM). Each student self-identified and submitted demographics at the time of enrollment. We followed students to successful engagement in their profession of choice; we compared graduation and postgraduation outcomes to non-HS-LEAP students at UU from 2005-2016. RESULTS: Almost 80% of HS-LEAP students are from communities underrep-resented in medicine: 41% Latinx, 28% Asian, 7% Black, 2% American Indi-an/Alaskan Native, and 1% Pacific Islander. HS-LEAP students had lower ACT scores upon undergraduate enrollment, higher grade point averages in their first semester of college, higher fall-to-fall first-year retention rates, and higher 6-year graduation rates when compared to non-HS-LEAP UU students. Students who completed HS-LEAP attended graduate school at twice the rate of students who participated in HS-LEAP, the majority in the health professions. CONCLUSIONS: The HS-LEAP program is associated with increased URM success in undergraduate programs and elevated participation in graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistant, nursing, and public health. Similar programs, with continuous assessment and evaluation, could be adopted in other locations to improve the representation of these groups in health professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-575
Number of pages6
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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