Our History

The Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) for the state of West Virginia was established at the West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center in 1985. It began in 1984 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and remained federally funded until 2005 when the federal funding was cut nationwide. In 1998, the West Virginia Legislature began assisting in HCOP funding. The state Legislature has funded it entirely since 2006 and continues to fund it today.

HCOP is a comprehensive program that provides academic enrichment and support services for under-represented students to encourage them to pursue health professions with the hopes that they will practice in their home communities or in underserved areas in West Virginia.

HCOP programs range from recruitment efforts at the high school level, to preparing students to enroll in health professional programs, such as medical, dental, and pharmacy school. Traditionally, students accepted into the program have received a wide range of services including enrichment classes, tutorial assistance, personal counseling, and academic advising. The services are broad reaching, encouraging students towards any of the health professions schools in any state.

Students can take part in the program at two different levels. The entry-level component is designed to enhance the graduating high school student's basic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in college-level health career majors. The advanced level component is for college students preparing to apply to health professions school. This level includes a review for admissions tests, preparation for completing the application, practicing for interviews, and shadowing in health care clinics and/or research laboratories.