In 1978, the Illinois State Legislature called for the formation of the Urban Health Program (UHP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago in response to community protests and outcries that significant health care disparities plagued the state’s poor, urban, mostly minority communities. The Urban Health Program was to attract and support more students from traditionally underserved populations into the degree programs at UIC that lead to health care careers, with the belief that those who graduated were more likely to practice in the communities that most needed them. In 1979, the first students recruited as part of the Urban Health Program enrolled in the health professions colleges of UIC.
Today, 40 plus years later, UHP, now the Urban Health Progam Resource Center, continues to coordinate initiatives that support the efforts of individual program offices in each of UIC’s Health Sciences Colleges (Applied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work), as well as a program office in the Graduate College. While the program offices in each of the colleges work directly with students in their respective colleges, the Resource Center supports initiatives for undergraduate Pre-Health students, coordinating general recruitment and outreach initiatives, as well as intercollegiate activities and programs for all UHP health sciences students.
UHP has excelled at its mission from the beginning. UHP actively recruits students from Chicago’s neighborhoods and from other underserved communities throughout the state. UHP faculty and staff provide ongoing support and mentoring to African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx and American Indian students enrolled in all of UIC’s health science colleges, as well as any other degree programs that might lead to careers in health care or medical research. When UHP students graduate, they often work within underserved communities, particularly in the city of Chicago. UHP has and still, today impacts the health care deficiencies that have traditionally plagued underserved communities, just as state legislators hoped it would when they voted to establish UHP over 40 years ago.