Historically Black medical schools have additionally sought to create long-term growth and widen access to care through partnerships with healthcare provider organizations and third-party research collaborations.
In December 2020, Morehouse and Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health established the More in Common Alliance, a 10-year, $100 million commitment to triple the number of residency slots and training opportunities for Morehouse students in underserved areas across the Catholic health system’s markets.
Mallett, chief administrative officer for the alliance, said the organizations are using the funding to launch medical training centers in an African American community in Chattanooga, Tennessee; a predominantly Alaska Native neighborhood in Seattle; and areas in California with large Pacific Islander and Latinx populations. The money will go toward the centers’ buildings and equipment, along with faculty salaries, research programs and student housing and scholarships.
The partnership creates a direct path to residency programs for Morehouse students and a pipeline of diverse clinicians for CommonSpirit, which the health system says will help improve clinical outcomes and patient experience.
“The impact is going to be a greater opportunity for people who may have not had an opportunity to be cared for by somebody who looks like them, who may share their language, understand their lived experience, and the opportunity to really have that [trusting] relationship. That is really going to advance health equity and move toward the elimination of health inequities,” Mallett said.
Healthcare organizations seeking similar partnerships to diversify their workforce should look to provide students opportunities that will help them advance in their careers, including offering financial aid, building pipeline programs and sharing research and data tools, medical school leaders said.
“Students who have [exposure and training] experiences are more likely to acquire the skills that employers want after they graduate, and those are the ones who are more likely to be able to be employed,” South-Paul said. “If we can get those longitudinal experiences for our students, that benefits the communities that we actually serve.”
Charles H. Drew, which will launch programs in June in psychiatry, family medicine, internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics, plans to train its students out of New King Hospital, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital and Veterans Affairs Long Beach Health Care, among other sites. Meharry, meanwhile, has entered into clinical training partnerships over the past year with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Church Health and the University of Memphis.
Another partnership between Meharry and Middle Tennessee State University puts eligible students on track to finish their undergraduate studies and medical school in just six years. They are also given a preferred residency slot in a medically underserved community in Tennessee, where the student must commit to practicing for at least two years after training, which is paid for by the state.
An influx of new research dollars will have the biggest impact on the institution long-term, Hildreth said. Meharry’s research portfolio has grown from $70 million in grants in 2020 to $100 million in grants now, he said.
The schools have struck partnerships with the U.S. military, Ivy League universities and tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, which bring in third-party resources and funding to complement the institutions’ faculty expertise and data centers. In September, the four schools collectively received a $46 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to advance genomics research in Africa.