"I truly started to feel comfortable calling myself a scientist": An Exploration of a Short-Term Program to Strengthen the Health Sciences Pipeline

Date of Graduation

Fall 12-11-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jane Bleasdale, PhD

Second Advisor

Jessica Blundell, EdD


There has been an intensifying effort on behalf of health science schools to eliminate the nation’s shortages of Under-Represented Minority (URM) health care practitioners (Browne, 2012). Summer and multi-year pipeline and outreach programs for post-secondary URM student populations flourished in response during the last 50 years (Grumbach & Chen, 2006; Barr & Matsui, 2008; Browne, 2012). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the effectiveness of the two-day post-secondary health sciences program, Discover NorCal Health College (NCHC), on increasing the level of preparation and persistence of URM, first-generation, and economically disadvantaged students seeking enrollment into an NCHC program. Four former participants were surveyed (Male=1; Female=3) regarding their Discover NCHC experience.

Participants reported high levels of satisfaction with Discover NCHC. All the female participants reported a strong appreciation for the program's social belonging and the extra motivation provided to remain committed to their academic aspirations. Some women also articulated difficulty formulating a science identity, critical to their overall commitment to a science career. Most participants described the continual challenge of navigating impostor syndrome throughout their respective academic journeys. All participants lauded the value of ethnic, racial, and socio-economic representation inherent in the Discover NCHC experience while also recognizing how institutional prestige factors into their professional school decision processes. The study demonstrated that Discover NCHC had a significant impact on the participants’ knowledge and their decision to apply to an NCHC health science program.