Médicos, Enfermeros, y Dentistas Para El Pueblo (MEDPEP) is a Medical Preparation and Education Pipeline program designed to support low-income Latino and underrepresented minority (URM) students through their community college experience and transition to 4-year universities and health professional programs.
MEDPEP accomplishes this mission by:
- Identifying URM students with an interest in graduate health science education
- Conference and research participation
- Providing academic workshops
- Leadership development
- Parent/Family support
CESLAC’s MEDPEP (Médicos, Enfermeros, y Dentistas Para El Pueblo) addresses the under-representation of minorities in health care professions--and the resulting lack of health services in those communities--in a new way. MEDPEP seeks to replace the Great Society-era “urban underclass” model which still dominates health policy with a paradigm that finds and builds upon the strength and richness in Latino and underrepresented minority (URM) communities.
MEDPEP proposes to increase the supply of Latino and other URM physicians from the ground up, by influencing students, their families, and the educational institutions that serve them. MEDPEP creates an academic pipeline from community college to both private schools and the University of California and its prestigious Schools of Medicine, and supports students on this rigorous path by providing a stimulating academic course, effective peer mentoring, and family involvement.
MEDPEP differs in several ways from other programs designed to increase achievement among California’s minority students. First, MEDPEP gives community college students interested in a health care profession services tailored to that goal. About 500,000 Latino students begin community college every year, yet very few (2.1%) eventually transfer to a four-year university, and fewer still persist to enter medical school. MedPEP’s goal is to increase the number of transfers by helping students stay on track to achieve their goals.
Another unique aspect of MEDPEP is its foundation in contemporary social sciences theories. MEDPEP staff have crafted programs by looking at exciting new directions in education, psychology and community development. This approach is holistic, intellectually empowering, culturally relevant, and novel in its focus on the community as a source of support. For this reason, MEDPEP involves not just students, but their families, their community, and California’s educational institutions in a process of socialization. While low-income students and families must be socialized to achieve academic success, the schools mandated to educate them can learn to better appreciate Latino civil society in order to focus on the strengths of that community.
Finally, MEDPEP sees itself as an on-going participatory research project. Thus it provides guidance and support rather than an iron-clad, one-size-fits-all program, engages in continual research and re-evaluation that informs the next round of programs, and encourages satellite programs to develop independently in response to local conditions and needs.
Since beginning operations, MEDPEP can point to a number of successes. Classes and activities are underway, or in initial implementation, at UCLA, at five community colleges and at one private college. Our "Latino Student Learner” profile, used to craft our student and family activities, has been shared with faculty and administrators at participating community colleges. In February 2004, MEDPEP became a functional partner with the UCLA/Drew Center of Excellence in Underrepresented Minority Health (UCLA COE), which supports the development of URM medical students and faculty. MEDPEP participants are the primary target for the UCLA Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, a six-week in-residence program to strengthen participants' abilities in the skills needed for a health professional career. SMDEP is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.