NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — Two historically Black schools in Nashville are partnering to train African American doctors and dentists in an effort to expand care in underserved communities.
Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College announced a new program on Tuesday, called the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute/TSU/Meharry Accelerated Pathway Program.
The accelerated program will allow selected students to spend three years in a pre-med program at TSU before going on to Meharry, earning a medical or dental degree in seven years instead of the customary eight.
Both schools will work together to recruit interested students and support them with mentoring, tutoring and career guidance.
The initiative aims to address the “need for greater commitment to eliminating health disparities among African American communities and to advance health equity among all underserved populations,” according to the university.
The university cited recent reports from the Association of American Medical Colleges, showing that the growth of Black medical school applicants and graduates lagged behind other groups.
The proportion of medical students who identified as African American or Black grew from 5.6% in 1980 to 7.7% in 2016.
“That’s a substantial increase, but still short of the 13.2 percent in the general population,” Tennessee State University said in a statement.
“African Americans continue to be underrepresented in medical schools,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “This partnership will help level the playing field, and give them better opportunities that they so deserve.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.