The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $415,000 to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to support a six-week summer program for incoming college sophomores, juniors and community college students who are interested in the health professions. 

The free Summer Health Professions Education Program is geared to underrepresented and disadvantaged students considering careers in medicine, dentistry, nursing and other health professions. 

The program provides an important pipeline for students who are often the first in their families to attend college or consider a career in health care, according to Dr. Clarence Braddock, principal investigator for UCLA, one of 13 sites across the nation. Each site will accept 80 students.

“The physician workforce does not accurately mirror our nation’s diversity,” said Braddock, who is the school’s vice dean for education and chief medical education officer. “Students from underrepresented communities often face a disadvantage in accessing professional mentors and quality education. This program helps level the playing field and reduce the diversity gap between the workforce and the U.S. population.”

Through problem-based learning, lectures, clinical experiences, small-group discussions and a research project, participants will explore a spectrum of healthcare issues affecting medically underserved communities. The curriculum will enhance students’ learning and strengthen their foundation in science through seminars in career development, study skills and financial planning.

Applications for the summer 2017 program will be accepted from Nov. 1, 2016, through March 1, 2017.