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Morgan State University's new medical school president seeks to graduate more Black doctors

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Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner
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Morgan State University is preparing to open an affiliated medical school where the Montebello Hospital Complex stands now. It will be the first new medical school to open at a historically Black university in half a century.

Morgan State University is on track to be the first Historically Black College and University, or HBCU, in nearly half a century to open a new medical school. The proposed name is The Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine and it is scheduled to welcome its first class in Fall 2024. 

As of this month, only four HBCUs have affiliated medical schools: Howard University College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Meharry Medical College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. By 2025, Xavier University in New Orleans plans to launch its medical school. 

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee and Dr. John Sealey who will serve as president and dean of the medical school appeared on WYPR’s Midday with Tom Hall on Wednesday. The duo said they are optimistic about attracting students and staff and the goal is for the new school to increase opportunities for Black students.

Ross-Lee said that the education system is biased and does not value students of color. But schools like Morgan State can change that dynamic, she said.

“They value and respect these young people and that provides confidence for the young folks to be able to move ahead and seek higher education degrees, whether it be in research, medicine, law, or whatever,” she said.

The number of physicians nationwide is expected to plummet over the next 10 years according to a report released in 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges. They estimate that by 2033 there will be a shortage of at least 54,100 to 139,000 physicians. Graduates of Morgan’s medical school will contribute to physicians with holistic training, known as DOs, which are licensed physicians who practice in every specialty area and account for just 11 percent of the medical field.

Only 5% of doctors across the U.S. identify as Black or African American and Morgan State University leaders say that means that diversity in the medical field is crucial.

“We know in medicine that the outcomes are directly linked to who treats you, if a person that looks like you treats you, then your outcomes are much much better,” Sealey said.

The new medical school in Baltimore will likely help address decades-long racial disparities in medicine, Ross-Lee said.

“If you have 40% of your country, that is not as healthy as it could be, It impacts the entire country,” she said. “People now after decades of disparities, understand that we've got to solve this and we've got to solve it for the nation, not just for those populations who are underserved.”

Zshekinah Collier is WYPR’s 2022-2023 Report for America Corps Member, where she covers Education. @Zshekinahgf
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