The Morehouse School of Medicine, a historically black medical school, and CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit Catholic health care system, announced the creation of seven medical education programs at CommonSpirit hospitals across the country.
The partnership, called More in Common, is a projected $ 100 million over 10 year initiative to reduce health care inequalities for underserved communities and communities of color and to diversify the physicians treating those communities.
While inequalities in health care – not only racial, but socio-economic and geographic – are long standing, inequalities in the response to COVID-19 have made these disparities almost impossible to ignore. And the institutions are taking note.
“The current global health crisis we are experiencing has exacerbated the disparities and access issues as we have seen more patients in need and reduced capacity of health workers,” said Erica Sutton, MD, associate dean of academic programs and affiliations and for undergraduate medical education at the Morehouse School of Medicine. “That alone brought it to the emergency level.”
A number of studies have shown that physicians of color more often work in underserved communities than their white counterparts, and that patients of color seeking care benefit greatly from seeing a physician of their race who shares their experiences of life, including receiving preventive care. care more often and report better patient experiences overall.
However, blacks still make up only 5% of physicians nationwide, despite making up 13% of the US population. With this partnership, the Morehouse School of Medicine intends to double its undergraduate enrollment.
Morehouse Medical School, founded in 1975, ranked among the top three medical schools in the United States for obtaining the most black medical students from 2009 to 2019, according to the American Association for Medical Colleges. The other two main ones were also black college and university (HBCU) medical schools.
The More in Common program is notable for supporting early career support for physicians of color, said Sabrina Assoumou, MD, MPH, who is the first to serve as a Boston University School of Medicine endowed professor by the name of Louis W. Sullivan, a longtime professor and president of Morehouse Medical School.
âThis job takes time, patience and investment,â she said. MedPage today. âI think this is the most daring program I have ever seen so far, in terms of not saying ‘okay we need doctors’, but’ we have to start with the students of first cycle.'”
Following the initial announcement of the collaboration in December 2020, the school and healthcare system finalized their plans over the past year and are now rolling out three undergraduate and four graduate programs.
CommonSpirit Health is one of the largest Medicaid health care providers and serves diverse communities in more than 21 states. There are plans to expand the program to five locations that could train up to 300 residents per year once the program matures.
Four medical students and one medical assistant student from Morehouse have already started clinical internships in emergency medicine and neurology as part of the program at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
After speaking with one of those students who completed an internship in neurology, Gary Greensweig, MD, senior vice president of the system and general manager of the physician business at CommonSpirit Health described “good radiant vibrations coming from Chattanooga All the time”.
The next round of students will begin at CommonSpirit Hospitals in Lexington, Kentucky and Seattle in the spring of 2022. Morehouse will also support âcollege sponsorshipâ for a program at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles.
More in Common also plans to launch entirely new medical programs at three California locations: Bakersfield, Santa Cruz and Ventura County. It is ultimately targeting 10 graduate medicine programs.
An increase in clinical sites for students to train will expand the next generation of physicians of color, according to Greensweig. âAs long as you have a big enough classroom you can train as many people as you have, but the real challenge is where do they go for their clinical training? ” he said. âOur goal is to increase the number of training slots, which will help Morehouse grow its class size. “
Assoumou described the impact on patients of seeing a doctor who shares their lived experience. One of his patients, for example, received the COVID vaccine after seeing Assoumou talk about vaccination on television, and because a black woman, Kizzmekia Corbett, led one of the NIH teams that developed the Moderna vaccine. .
After a history of distress in the health care system, she said, “They meet me on day one and they’re like, ‘Wow, she looks like me’. And the advice she gives me, maybe I’ll listen to it a bit more because she knows how to pack it. “