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Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)

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Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM) PREP will provide post-baccalaureate positions for under-represented minority students and students from disadvantaged/disability (URMDD) groups interested in pursuing a PhD. The focus is on research training under a strong research mentor to provide a supportive laboratory environment to develop the trainee's potential for a career in biomedical research. In addition to the research experience, the program includes opportunities for graduate level coursework to strengthen academic scientific background; GRE exam preparation; training in the responsible conduct of research; seminars for developing successful graduate school applications, and resume preparation; training in effective scientific writing and presentations; exposure to non-traditional career paths with a PhD or combined degree; and multi- tiered career counseling and mentoring. Recruitment is by visiting area minority institutions, national mailings, attendance at national conferences, a program web site, contact with students involved in pipeline training programs, involvement of former PREP trainees, significant input from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences by providing URMDD who are not accepted into PhD programs with information on the PREP, and by hosting special recruitment activities for HBCUs and other diversity initiatives. The program takes advantage of broad, multidisciplinary research activities at WFSM and the support and commitment of the deans towards increasing diversity to attract prospective participants. The PREP Scholars accounted for 29% of the URMDD PhDs awarded in biomedical sciences at WFSM over the past 4 years. PREP trainees have an overall 76% rate of entry into graduate and professional programs, with an entry rate of 56% in PhD programs alone. Retention of PREP Scholars is 90% in PhD programs and 100% in professional programs. Moreover, 100% of PREP trainees obtaining a PhD held T32 positions or individual fellowships, and 76% entered post-doctoral training following the PhD. The goals and objectives of the program are to: 1) increase URMDD student admission into PhD programs nationally and institutionally by having >90% of PREP Scholars apply to PhD programs (currently at 91%), 75% enroll in PhD programs (56% to date), and 50% enroll in PhD programs at WFSM (currently 39%); 2) maintain retention of minority graduate students at or above that of the graduate school as a whole; and 3) have 100% of PREP students take the GRE; provide access to GRE preparatory training to reach minimal standards (~1000) to increase credentials for acceptance into PhD programs. Program evaluation by students (including former participants), mentors, and an internal advisory committee will occur annually, with an external expert review every 2 years, in order to fine-tune programmatic activities to achieve program goals.
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