In order to develop a more competitive applicant pool, the Diverse Paths into Health Professions program offers a range of structured and unstructured activities, and has formal educational partnerships with all health professions schools within the LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans Public Schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and community physician organizations. Programmatic activities include: K-12 Science Clubs, Career Awareness Days, after-school science and math programs for middle school students, Summer Science Research Programs for middle and high school students, medical school applicant counseling, MCAT reviews for college students. Counseling, academic support, USMLE, Step I review, and Residency Counseling are available for LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) medical students.
The Diverse Paths into Health Professions program endorses the objectives of Healthy People 2020, a co-lead national activity by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Our science clubs in the New Orleans Public elementary, middle, and senior high schools offer a forum for the delivery of health information to K-12 students. These clubs and the didactic experience in the Summer Science Programs foster the development of health-related knowledge through presentations on health topics given by practicing health professionals. The activities relate to the educational community-based program objectives of Healthy People 2020 in the provision of health education/information to grade K-12.
Activities for the Diverse Paths into Health Professions Program were based on needs identified and barriers existing in Louisiana that could ultimately affect the competitiveness of minority and disadvantaged students' ability to enter and graduate from health profession schools. High poverty, an increasingly young minority population, and low educational attainment characterize Louisiana's population. Health indices are below national averages, for example, Louisiana ranks 49th among all states in the general health of its population. Louisiana also has proportionally fewer health professionals than the national average. Educationally, Louisiana's 74.8% rate of high schools graduation is below the southern and national averages. The ACT composite and science scores are also below the national average.