Training and Mentoring

Well-trained minority health investigators from health disparities (HD) populations are in a position to make a unique impact on the science of eliminating HD and tackling the most challenging public health problems of the present and the future. Interdisciplinary training is necessary for building the capacity of HD investigators to study and address the complex health issues that affect minorities and HD populations.

However, there is a shortage of minority HD scientists due in part to cultural and socioeconomic factors that limit access to advanced training in HD research. This shortage is particularly grave among nurse scientists. For example, African Americans (11.3%), Hispanics (3.7%), and Asian or Pacific Islanders (4.3%) are all vastly underrepresented among nurses with PhDs (National League for Nursing, 2010). Moreover, as noted in a recent IOM report on the Future of Nursing (2010), nurses are playing transformative leadership roles in healthcare and health research at the national and global levels, an impact that is only expected to increase in the 21st Century. To this end, the report stressed the importance of creating an educational pipeline for nurses to facilitate a seamless transition into higher levels of education. Similar shortages of minority researchers are seen in the public health sector, where according to the Association of Schools of Public Health; less than 13% of current faculty was from racial and ethnic minorities (APSH, 2006).

Providing opportunities to be involved in research is considered a “high impact practice” by education experts and strongly impacts learning outcomes for students (Kuh, 2008).

The El Centro Research, Training and Education Core (R-TEC) embraces this concept and other best practices in order to equip emerging investigators (undergraduate, graduate and young investigators) with the competencies necessary to conduct interdisciplinary, culturally informed and community-engaged HD research.