For Howard University senior Camille Renne, the six weeks she spent at Yale University School of Nursing (YSN) this summer in an intensive career and research internship gave her a new perspective. “I saw how I can make an impact on minority populations. This work makes a big difference in public health,” she commented.
Since 2000, the program has brought students to YSN from Howard University, a historically Black private university in Washington, D.C. “This program’s goal is to increase the number of ethnic minority scientists and health professionals who are prepared to address inequities in health care,” said program director Barbara Guthrie, PhD, RN, FAAN, YSN Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Renne, pictured, participated in a research team investigating HIV treatment in prison populations and discussed the findings in a final presentation. For all of the program participants, these presentations mark an important milestone in their academic development.
Program coordinator Everol Ennis, a primary care nursing student at YSN, recounts, “To see the growth and progress that takes place over six weeks—they come in asking what is involved in a research project, to the culmination of presenting complex topics in a cogent way…very impressive.”
In addition to research, participants shadow health professionals. Renne shadowed three YSN faculty nurse practitioners and witnessed the realities of bringing quality care to underserved and uninsured patients. For Renne, this career experience has shaped her future plans. “Seeing people do what I plan to do a couple of years down the road reassured me that this is actually what I want to pursue,” she added.
Thanks to a grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, YSN expanded its partnership with Howard University to reach students from a wider range of ages and academic disciplines. The new Josiah Macy Interdisciplinary Health Scholars Program created a second academic level to engage and prepare younger students. Guthrie added, “This new two-tier structure allows students to return for a second summer, building a strong pipeline from undergraduate to graduate studies.”
The new level, for rising sophomores, includes basic science and English classes, and an oral presentation on an issue of inequities in health care. Second level students, who are juniors and seniors, participate in an interdisciplinary team of Yale researchers and present on that research. The Macy Scholars program also broadened the program’s academic focus to include health-related disciplines such as nursing, biology, chemistry, medicine, psychology, and dentistry.
Since its inception in 2000, 51 students have benefited from the Yale-Howard program. Many students have published with their faculty mentors, and the majority has gone on to pursue graduate studies.
The Macy Scholars Program is led by YSN’s Dr. Guthrie and her collaborator, Dr. Forrester Lee, Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs at Yale Medical School.