Established in 1991, the Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCOE) has a primary goal of improving the health status of the Latino and other underserved populations by increasing the number of Latinos in the health professions and in particular medicine. As we enter our 20th year, the HCOE has focused its initiatives at enhancing academic performance of Latinos and other individuals from other underserved backgrounds; increasing the recruitment and retention of faculty; increasing the school’s diversity through the recruitment and retention of Latino faculty; and developing the capacity of all graduates to provide culturally competent healthcare services. The HCOE seeks to reduce disparities in healthcare by supporting individuals committed to advance the goals of diversity in the medical profession and improve healthcare to underserved populations.
The programs of the Hispanic Center of Excellence are sponsored through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Health Careers Diversity and Development. For more information, visit http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/diversity.
The diversity of our nation, combined with a shortage of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds in the health professions, presents a significant challenge for medical education and academic medicine. Since 1972, NJMS has implemented programs in an effort to meet these challenges. With the support of the Hispanic Center of Excellence, NJMS continues to make significant strides in paving the way for student curriculum and faculty development in response to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education Standard on Cultural Competency. These standards maintain that medical school “faculty and students must demonstrate an understanding of the manner in which people of diverse cultures and belief systems perceive health and illness and respond to various symptoms, diseases, and treatments. Medical students should learn to recognize and appropriately address gender and cultural biases in health care delivery, while considering first the health of the patient.”
To ensure that all graduates master the core competencies requisite for a culturally competent provider, a comprehensive plan that involves all four years of medical education was developed. In November 2003, school-wide education goals and objectives has been approved. Specifically, Goal 4 is “Commitment to the Health of the Community and Appreciation of Social and Cultural Diversity.” Students are expected to:
- Demonstrate the ability to obtain a history and physical that accommodates a patient’s belief systems
- Demonstrate cultural and linguistic competency
- Demonstrate the ability to develop a treatment plan that accommodates the cultural, social and economic context of the patient
These education goals and objectives are of paramount significance, embracing the implementation of cultural competency as one of the courses without walls. The Hispanic Center of Excellence plays a critical role in developing and implementing an integrated, vertical and longitudinal curriculum conceptualizing cultural competency and its impact in reducing health disparities in the United States.
Special consideration is given to disadvantaged populations. Fifty places are set aside for applicants proposed by administrators from the New Jersey Medical School sponsored Hispanic Center of Excellence and from Science Park, a Newark consortium which includes 12 inner-city high schools.