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Navigating the Tide: Health Science Student and Faculty of Color Academic Experiences

Background: Occupational Therapy as a profession must diversify its workforce to meet the needs of a diverse population. The recruitment and retention of students of color or racial minorities is necessary for a racially diverse workforce. Faculty of color mentors is integral for the retention and success of students of color. This research explored the lived experiences of a recent graduate of color and a faculty of color in a mentoring relationship.
Method: Semi-structured interviews were developed to gain insight into the assets, challenges, and environment of the mentee and mentor of color. A phenomenological approach was utilized with a convenience sample of two participants from a health science university in the United States of America. The data was analyzed using the Kawa model as a lens.
Results: Four common themes arose from the interviews: (a) racial, cultural, and class backgrounds were strengths, (b) sympathetic supports needed for validation, (c) lack of representation were barriers, and (d) predominantly white institutions may not be inclusive and may also contribute to the maintenance of health disparities.
Discussion: The findings of this study focus on the need for quality mentorship, spaces and opportunities to dialogue about race and racism, and institutional structural support for the recruitment, retention, and success of both students and faculty of color in academia.


Elizabeth Ching* and Alondra Ammon

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