Data News Staff Edited Report
Xavier University of Louisiana is a beacon light of Black Excellence, and has a track record of graduating medical professionals, and a national leader in the STEM fields.
Already known for its success in getting Black graduates into medical school, announced Thursday that it is now planning its own medical school in New Orleans.
For the past two years the Coronavirus Pandemic emphasized the need for greater diversity in medicine, because representation and trust are part of the reasons for health disparities affecting underrepresented populations, said Reynold Verret, President of Xavier.
“Xavier was founded with the mission of promoting the creation of a just and humane society through education,” he said in a news release announcing plans for a medical school and graduate school of health sciences.
“The establishment of graduate education programs dedicated to the preparation of more Black healthcare professionals is a natural extension of our foundress’ legacy as we approach our second century of service. It is also where we are called to answer a critical need of our nation.”
For decades, the Catholic School founded in 1925 has graduated more African American students and students of color who go on to get medical degrees and health doctorates than any other higher education institution in the U.S., the news release said.
About six hundred students are enrolled in Xavier’s College of Pharmacy, the oldest in Louisiana, and nearly 240 in graduate school.
Current graduate programs include one for physicians’ assistants and master’s degrees in public health program, speech pathology, pharmaceutical studies, and health analytics.
Now Xavier will establish a medical school of its own, the Graduate School of Health Sciences and Medical School, the university announced Thursday (April 21st). The endeavor is in the planning stages, university officials said, so it will be years before the medical school is ready to begin training future physicians.
The nation’s only Historically Black and Catholic University has long worked to bring greater diversity into the medical professions. Its College of Pharmacy ranks high in graduating Black Pharmacists, and its undergraduate programs tout the number of Black graduates who go on to earn doctorates in Science and Engineering.
Building upon this success, Xavier University of Louisiana has added graduate degree programs — including physician assistant, pharmaceutical sciences, public health, speech pathology and health analytics programs — that expand representation in health professions.
A recent Association of American Medical Colleges report noted that “gains in diversity are not shared by all groups. In particular, growth of Black or African American applicants, matriculants and graduates lagged behind other groups.”
Underrepresented minorities still struggle to grow in numbers at all levels of the medical profession, studies show, with only incremental improvement over the past decades.
Creating a new medical school is seen as essential to addressing the physician shortage, but diverse representation requires a further step. In the last century, there have been few new medical colleges and only one at an HBCU. “Xavier University of Louisiana is examining the option to change that narrative,” university officials said.