Northeastern University/Edward M. Kennedy High School “Shadow Day” Program and Its Impact on Minority Student Interest in Healthcare and Subsequent Healthcare Workforce Development: A Qualitative Analysis

Abstract

Background: Ethnic disparities in health status and healthcare have been documented throughout the United States. By increasing diversity in the healthcare workforce, utilization of healthcare services by minority patients will also increase, thus closing the current gap in health disparities. The Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (EMK) pipeline program aims to foster minority interest in healthcare. As part of the EMK curriculum, The Northeastern University (NU)/EMK Shadow Day attempts to maintain students’ interest in healthcare. Although this program has been an EMK curricular component for the past seven years, no research has been done to measure the effects it has had on students’ motivation to attend college to study in the healthcare field. Purpose/Objective: To assess the impact NU/EMK Shadow Day has on development of EMK 10th grade students’ interest in healthcare as a college focus and motivation to pursue a healthcare career. Hypothesis: NU/EMK Shadow Day has a positive impact on students’ desire to pursue post-secondary education within healthcare. Methods: In this qualitative ground-theory study, data was collected from student reflections written from 2007-2011 and surveys implemented in 2011. Reflections were analyzed within and between years for trends relating to the students’ motivation and perception of healthcare studies in college and opinions surrounding college environment preference. Results/Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that the NU/EMK Shadow Day program has a positive, direct impact on development of students’ interest in healthcare as a college focus. Surveys suggest the program had a positive impact on motivation to pursue a healthcare career.