UST’s unique interprofessional education program has been in existence since 2005; and enrolled its first cohort of students in fall semester 2007, with a pilot year in academic year 2006-2007. It was the first curricular track in the doctor of pharmacy program at the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Pharmacy.
Each year a group of students from the UConn Schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work and the Quinnipiac University’s Physician Assistant program are selected and admitted into the program. The main goal of the Urban Service Track is to develop a group of healthcare professionals dedicated to caring for Connecticut’s urban, underserved populations and practicing in interprofessional teams. These students are designated as Urban Health Scholars and work as a team to help solve the challenges of healthcare in urban areas, including implementing community health education and outreach programs, providing direct patient care in free clinics, promoting health literacy and cultural sensitivity, and participating in quality improvement initiatives and community-based research. In addition, Urban Health Scholars participate in conferences focusing on health policy and advocacy activities affecting underserved populations.
All activities within UST are interprofessional, and Urban Health Scholars are mentored by UST core faculty as well as community clinicians representing all six schools. Peer-to-peer mentoring also occurs among students and faculty.
The UST program places strong emphasis on public health and primary care as a career pathway. In addition, leadership skills are developed as all Scholars have the opportunity to lead one or more community outreach activities, leading an interprofessional group of health profession students, preceptors, and community partner.