COLUMBIA, Mo. — High school students from seven states will spend three days starting Sunday, June 7, at the University of Missouri Health System’s Cristo Rey Health Professions Summit.

The summit was created in an effort to introduce underrepresented minority students from urban areas across the country to career possibilities in health care. This year, 39 students will participate in sessions offered by the MU School of Medicine, the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, the MU School of Health Professions and the MU School of Veterinary Medicine to learn about careers in medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ultrasonography, pharmacy, speech and communications disorders, and much more.

All summit activities will focus on this year’s theme, “Exploring Self: Understanding Others.”

“Our goal for both leaders and students is to better understand and experience inclusivity so one day they become culturally sensitive health care providers,” said Kathleen Quinn, Ph.D., associate dean for rural health at the MU School of Medicine. “Health outcomes improve for patients if their health providers share their culture, background, ethnicity and race, but many times this isn’t the case. We want students to one day feel comfortable caring for all patients despite their cultural differences.”

The summit at MU is funded by a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of the program is to expose those underrepresented in health care to a variety of career options and one day, improve the number and experience of health care providers, particularly primary care providers, in underserved areas.

The Cristo Rey Network is comprised of 28 private, college preparatory, Catholic schools nationwide serving underrepresented urban youth. The network has an extremely high rate of students who go on to college, many with scholarships.

The MU Health System is a national partner with the Cristo Rey Network and has been involved with the program for the past eight years.

“We need more diversity in our health care providers to better serve Missouri and beyond,” Quinn said. “With this partnership, we work to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in health careers to address health disparities.”

(Courtesy of MU Health System)