Date of Conferral





Public Health


Diana Naser


Minority groups experience disproportionately worse health outcomes. An identified solution is to increase the number of minorities providing healthcare in their own communities. Primary care complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers are a potential resource. Many investigators have demonstrated the efficacy of science-based pipeline programs for increasing the roles of students in allopathic health professions. Whether these programs influence matriculation of minorities into a CAM university is unknown. The main purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of a pre-college science academy at a CAM university and determine whether the experience increased interest in and motivation for CAM careers. It was also important to learn more about what factors may facilitate or impede minority student matriculation in a CAM university. In this phenomenological study, a mixed purposeful sampling strategy was used to select 9 students who had participated in a science academy at a CAM university. Individual in depth, semi-structured, interviews were conducted and analyzed using a process of inductive analysis. The results indicated that barriers to college matriculation included cost and the complexity of the process. The desire to elevate status steers some minorities who use CAM modalities as their indigenous health practice, towards high prestige allopathic careers. Participation in the science academy increased interest in and utility of CAM, but did not change preconceived career choices. These results contribute to the existing literature and can enrich social change initiatives by increasing the number of minorities providing healthcare in their own communities, and further understanding of the factors that influence underrepresented minority career choices.