Chicago — California’s only HBCU is aiming to solve a shortage of Black doctors with its own medical school.
The program addresses the lack of medical schools that serve Black students. Of the country’s 102 HBCUs, five are accredited to operate medical schools. Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland plans to join the list.
“Many African American medical students are interested in treating African Americans and in closing the health disparities gap – and by opening this new MD Program, CDU provides greater opportunities to study medicine in a setting where the mission of the institution is the same – closing the gap,” said Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, the inaugural dean for Charles Drew’s new College of Medicine.
Research shows that representation in healthcare matters. A 2020 study, found that Black infant mortality in the first year of life is halved when treated by a Black physician.
Medical student Allison Leggett shared with CalMatters how representation at the bedside can put a family at ease. During her clinical training, she met a young patient with social-developmental delays who spent a lot of time in the hospital alone as her father worked three jobs.
“At first I thought she didn’t like me, but when I told her it was my last day and I was leaving, she started crying!” said Leggett “Afterwards, her dad pulled me aside and told me, ‘I don’t think you realize how much of an impact you made on her.’”
“Having a Black physician on the team really made him feel comfortable, especially since he couldn’t be there all the time advocating for his daughter, and he really felt like we were taking care of his baby girl,” she continued. “He was extremely scared, but he knew we were fighting for him and for her.”
Applications are open to be in the July 2023 charter class.