The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Southern Illinois U. Med School work in developing Delta health care professionals

Posted on June 24, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Improving access to health care in the underserved Delta is a crucial issue for our region, and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine has an excellent program to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students who graduate from health professional schools, and then serve in areas that have a shortage of doctors and other health professionals.

Don E. Patton, Counselor/Recruiter for SIU School of Medicine’s “MEDPREP” program, gave an excellent presentation at the Delta Grassroots Caucus session on June 4 at the US Senate Russell Building, and we would like to present this additional information about the great work of MEDPREP.

Please note the problem Don Patton discusses about cuts in funding for the highly beneficial Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), which is a program that the Congress and the next administration should restore to a solid funding level. We encourage our partners to call this to the attention of Congressional staff and whichever Presidential candidate you prefer to support. As of the 2007-08 school year, a total of 1,232 students have participated in MEDPREP. Alumni around the nation attest to the program’s success. Lee Riley Powell, MDGC


Information from Don E. Patton

MEDPREP was founded in 1972 at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine-Carbondale, Illinois. As a counselor/recruiter, I travel the state of Illinois and southern states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia to identify students who are talented but need more science enrichment and exploration of medicine and dentistry beyond graduating from undergraduate school. Our program is opened for students from other states that are interested in our vision to improve the healthcare shortage.

For more details of the MEDPREP program, please go to our website—

The number #1 challenge is the cost of higher education. Prior to the Bush administration, Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) funded many of the programs like ours–called pipeline programs for the economic and educationally disadvantaged. There have been drastic cuts in the programs under the current administration. Therefore, the vision of improving health disparities in this country most likely will not be realized as long as funding is at its current level.

Below is our vision and mission statement for the program

VISION: Individuals from disadvantaged and minority communities will have access to quality healthcare

MISSION: To increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students from southern and central Illinois who enter and graduate from health professions schools and will serve in health professions shortage areas. (It’s not mandatory that the students stays in Illinois.)

Opportunity: The Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program (MEDPREP) was established in 1972 by the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. It provides assistance to educationally and economically disadvantaged students in preparing for and achieving success in health professions schools. The program operates on a year-round basis, beginning in June of each year. It is open to postbaccalaureate students seeking assistance with pre-professional preparation. College juniors and seniors can also participate. MEDPREP participants are regular university students pursuing a special pre-professional program. About 72 students participate in the program annually.

Challenge: The challenge for each MEDPREP student is to confront those behaviors and attitudes that have impeded the academic and personal growth requisite for successful matriculation and retention in professional school. Students are expected to work on developing science knowledge augmented by efficient and effective learning skills. Standards of acceptable preprofessional behavior apply in all situations, with peers, faculty, and others in the university and community.

Support: Each MEDPREP student receives assistance in developing an academic plan tailored to his/her specific needs. Students prepare their plans through consultation with MEDPREP advisors and participation in courses such as Orientation Seminar and Learning Skills. Faculty members are available for individual consultation and tutoring. Small group interaction and group study are encouraged.

MEDPREP Curriculum Overview

An individualized curriculum plan is prepared by the entering MEDPREP student and his/her advisor. It is based on the student’s strengths and needs. Among the factors considered are the following:

Academic record

Student goals

Noncognitive traits

Work schedule

Most MEDPREP students engage in MCAT preparation and science background courses during the first year of program participation. During the following year, while the student is applying to health professional school, he/she enrolls in enrichment courses.