Jump to main page content
Purdue signature

Underrepresented Students

All professional fields are working to improve the diversity in their professions. The goal is to have a healthcare and legal workforce that is representative of our population. A diverse workforce is more responsive to cultural differences among clients, patients and practitioners. Many clients and patients also prefer seeing providers who come from similar backgrounds.

How is "underrepresented" defined in the medical profession?

Programs define this differently, but they often base it on the student coming from a medically underserved community. Being “medically underserved” is often based on socioeconomic level and/or ethnicity. Medical schools also use the concept of “disadvantaged status,” which they define as being from a medically underserved population and/or being on state and/or federal assistance.

What programs are available?

Many health care training programs and their national organizations have plans to improve the pipeline. One effort is to provide summer enrichment programs. Although these are often open to all students, the original intent of the programs is to provide underrepresented students an opportunity to learn about and explore these careers. You should explore the website of the professional organization in your field of interest. These will often contain information about programs offered in that field to help underrepresented students explore that career.

The Pre-Professional Advising office often receives announcements about these programs, so you might want to meet with us to express your interest in learning more about these opportunities.

Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is a free, six-week summer enrichment program for first- and second-year pre-medical and pre-dental students. Highly recommended programs!

Other summer programs can be found at Student National Medical Association (SNMA), which is involved with supporting the interests of medical students of color and those interested in health disparity issues.

Student National Dental Association (SNDA) supports the interests of underrepresented dental students and those interested in disparities in dental care access.

You can begin your search for more career information at: