University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter announced today that the Health Careers Resource Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is the recipient of the 2023 Inclusive Excellence Collaboration Award.
The IECA, one of the President’s Excellence Awards, recognizes outstanding contributions across the NU System that advance diversity, access and inclusion. The award is given to academic and/or administrative departments or units that have collaborated to create a positive culture and improve outcomes for all students, faculty and staff. Honored units, selected by a committee representing all four University of Nebraska campuses and the community at large, receive $25,000.
“Nebraska is facing significant workforce shortages, especially in healthcare fields that are crucial to our state’s growth and well-being,” Carter said. “Nebraska’s public university is leading the way in closing the gap – thanks to dedicated efforts like those of the team at UNO’s Health Careers Resource Center.
“The HCRC is making a real difference in creating access and opportunity for all students to pursue careers in healthcare, including those who have been historically underrepresented. The center’s work is not only addressing an urgent workforce need in Nebraska, but is also helping to ensure that Nebraskans now and in the future will have access to quality care. I thank the team at the HCRC for all they are doing to expand opportunities for students, build a skilled workforce for Nebraska, and improve the quality of life across our state.”
Created in 2015, the Health Careers Resource Center serves as an academic and career advising center for all students interested in a career in healthcare. Led by Dr. Paul Davis, a UNO biology professor, the center is staffed by a team of advisors who serve UNO’s 2,500-plus pre-health students.
The center is also home to the Urban Health Opportunities Program, a scholarship pathways program to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Through close collaboration between UNO and UNMC, the program provides personalized advising and mentoring to students throughout their undergraduate careers and transition to UNMC. The program has been highly successful in improving student outcomes: More than three-quarters of UHOP students over the past three years have successfully entered medical school, and of those, all have either graduated from UNMC or are on track to do so.
The Health Careers Resource Center also houses the Area Health Education Center, which works to expand the Omaha area healthcare workforce with a special emphasis on preparing health workers to effectively serve patients in North and South Omaha. UNMC is a close partner in the effort; for example, the College of Allied Health Professions and College of Nursing are co-sponsors on training and continuing education for local healthcare professionals.
Data show that the Health Careers Resource Center is having a strong impact on student outcomes. Before the center was established, medical school acceptance rates for UNO students was about 20 percent. Today, that figure is 81 percent. Acceptance rates to nursing, pharmacy, dental and other professional programs have similarly increased.
The center’s staff also contribute to broad UNO recruitment and orientation programs including Be A Mav Days, Transfer Visit Days and New Student Orientation.
The center will be honored publicly along with other 2023 President’s Excellence Award recipients at the Aug. 17 Board of Regents meeting.