THE STATE OF BLACK REHABILITATION EDUCATION ENDEAVOR
Black people have historically been and are currently underrepresented in rehabilitation careers. We have identified problems and solutions at the individual, community, organizational, and national levels for sustained educational change. Representation matters; intentional engagement with Black people throughout the lifespan about the variety of opportunities in rehabilitation careers will result in a sustained workforce of Black practitioners to narrow the gap in representation.
WHEREAS, there is a lack of STEM/STEAM programming and representation of Black students from elementary schools through higher education aimed at rehabilitation professions;
WHEREAS, there is low visibility of rehabilitative career opportunities and providers to Black students;
WHEREAS,there is diminished support for Black prospective health profession students towards future career choices;
WHEREAS,there is decreased preparation of Black students for higher education in regards to educational requirements, financial responsibilities and institutional culture, leading to the potential for racial marginalization;
WHEREAS, there is limited use of needs assessments, mentoring, and guidance of Black students to advocate for and address their needs and concerns as it relates to discrimination, acculturation, and marginalization within health professions’ academic programs;
WHEREAS, there is an underrepresentation of Black faculty and associated support to promote recruitment, retention, and professional development within academia;
WHEREAS, there is inconsistent pedagogical and andragogical training for all faculty to meet the needs of Black students and provide culturally safe environments for didactic and clinical education opportunities;
WHEREAS,there are limited outcome measures to identify and address deficiencies within program development, accreditation/re-accreditation, and curriculum design;
WHEREAS,there is bias in many rehabilitation programs’ admissions policies including, but not limited to the required standardized tests that are discriminatory against Black students; WHEREAS, there is excessive emotional labor put on Black students when they are asked to educate other students and professors about social justice to compensate for the inadequacies inherent in the curriculum;
WHEREAS, Black students experience discrimination at clinical education sites that are not vetted for discriminatory practices or racial bias to ensure safe learning environments for Black students;
WHEREAS, Black students are not offered alternate clinical sites when they experience racial discrimination from their clinical instructors, peers or patients;
WHEREAS, there is insufficient coordination, communication, and resource sharing within and between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Black serving professional organizations, and other programs/affinity groups for research, education, and program development of rehabilitation professionals; now, therefore be it
WE call for intentional approaches to increase educational engagement of Black students throughout the lifespan. Approaches to increase educational engagement needs to address the different domains of learning and expose Black students to rehabilitation careers. To that end, consistent programming and funding is required in the following primary areas:
1. Creation of a strategic plan to educate Black students on rehabilitation careers beginning when they are as young as four years old-this is when their math and science identity begins; it will continue to develop throughout their primary and secondary education.
2. Funding evidence-based programming for Black students to receive age-appropriate information on rehabilitation careers.
3. Providing financial assistance to Black high school and college students for application fees and standardized tests for admission.
4. Training and financially supporting mentors to provide age-appropriate academic guidance for Black students to enter rehabilitation health careers.
5. Providing Black students with preparation for attending and completing higher education in order to pursue career paths in rehabilitation.
6. Utilizing holistic admissions processes for rehabilitation programs to promote increased inclusion and equity for Black students.
7. Creating and supporting programs that enhance the education, coordination, and promotion of Black faculty and students in education, program development, leadership training, and research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as predominantly white institutions.
8. Increasing Black faculty and establishing a career pipeline path to academia geared towards former Black students of rehabilitation programs.
9.Tracking faculty appointments by race and ethnicity to identify patterns that support or negatively impact Black faculty.
10. Requiring and continually assessing culturally responsive pedagogy and andragogy knowledge and skills of all faculty to ensure equitable learning opportunities for all students.
11. Developing an anonymous form for students and faculty to report discriminatory practices experienced in academia and clinical education to their respective national rehabilitation membership organizations with a plan to mandate changes as needed.
12. Requiring cultural responsiveness training for all academic and clinical education sites to create a safe environment for Black students.
13. Tracking individual student clinical affiliation outcomes by race and ethnicity to identify negative patterns that adversely impact Black students.
14. The provision of resources and directories of minority- based organizations by academic institutions to all students entering rehabilitation programs.
15. Recruiting Black practitioners to write items for board examinations. 16. Modifying the current curriculum of academic institutions to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are interwoven throughout the educational materials.