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Morehouse School of Medicine has been dedicated to changing the narrative surrounding diversity in the medical industry and now the Atlanta-based institution will be able to further its efforts through a new partnership with the healthcare company CommonSpirit Health.

The $100 million, 10-year partnership was fostered to address the racial health disparities that have been brought to the forefront amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the initiative, the prestigious school and the company are creating an undergraduate and graduate program that will provide career development opportunities and training for Black physicians in an effort to bring more culturally competent doctors into the medical industry. At least 300 students who participate in the program will go on to do their residency training in underserved communities.

“We are laying the foundation for patients to have more access to Black clinicians and for Black medical students and graduates to gain community-based experience that they need to be successful in their work,” Lloyd H. Dean, who serves as President and CEO of CommonSpirit Health, said in a statement. “We’re immediately leveraging our partnership to address health inequities magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, as Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Together, we will foster a culturally competent system of care that includes testing, care delivery, and vaccine allocation, directed at the most vulnerable populations to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in racial and ethnic communities.”

Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice added the program will be instrumental in creating pathways for Black doctors which will ultimately lead to the improvement in patient care for individuals from underserved communities. “Studies show that Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors,” she said. “Now, more than ever, we believe society needs a unique partnership like ours that can help show the way to reducing health disparities in vulnerable communities, and, in turn, make all communities stronger.” CommonSpirit Health and Morehouse School of Medicine will provide $21 million for the program. More details about the initiative are slated to be announced in 2021.

News about the partnership with CommonSpirit Health comes months after MSM was awarded a $40 million grant to support its COVID-19 Resiliency Network in fighting the pandemic in underserved communities.

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