A California-based HBCU is elevating its mission to increase the representation of Black doctors in medicine. The creation of a new graduate school at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is underway, CBS News reported.
Although historically Black colleges and universities make up just 2.3 percent of medical schools in the United States, they produce nearly 10 percent of Black medical school grads. When the Watts-Willowbrook-based institution opened its doors in 1966—following the Watts Uprising—it was cultivated to address the lack of access to healthcare in South Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods. The HBCU—which is named in honor of trailblazing Black physician Dr. Charles R. Drew—has led programs that sit at the intersection of health equity, social justice, and community engagement. Since its inception, the educational pillar has nurtured generations of scholars who have gone on to make pivotal contributions to the medical sciences and have shared a passion for using healthcare as a vessel to uplift historically marginalized communities.
In an effort to build upon its legacy and address the lack of diversity within medicine, the university is launching a new medical school that will house its inaugural independent four-year medical degree (MD) program. Previously, the school has led collaborative medical programs with the University of California, Los Angeles.
CDU’s President David M. Carlisle says the vision behind the new school is rooted in the university’s initial mission—to increase the representation of doctors in the surrounding Watts-Willowbrook community.
“If you look around this community, if you drive around, do you see private practicing doctors, no,” he told the news outlet. “Do you see private practicing pharmacists, no, dentists, no. You certainly don’t see cosmetic plastic surgeons anywhere around here for example. The secret sauce here is taking students who grew up in this community, they are much more motivated to return and serve this community.” The new school, which has received over 1,000 applications, is slated to open in July.
Representation matters; especially in the healthcare space. Research shows Black patients have better health outcomes when they are treated by Black doctors.
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