The Partnership Will Create a New, Standalone College of Medicine in New Orleans

For decades, Xavier University of Louisiana has produced more African-American students and students of color who achieve medical degrees and doctorates in the health sciences than any other higher education institution in the nation. Meanwhile, Ochsner, the largest academic health care system in Louisiana, has a long history of training medical students, residents, and fellows.

Now the two institutions will come together to establish a joint College of Medicine. Officials from both organizations made the announcement at a press conference today (Jan. 17).

The partnership is expected create a strong physician pipeline that addresses longstanding inequities within the nation’s health care system.

Research shows an urgent need for an HBCU College of Medicine now, as demand for doctors is expected to grow. Louisiana is projected to rank third nationally for a shortage of physicians by 2030, according to a Human Resources for Health analysis.

Representation of African Americans within medicine lags, as they comprise five percent of the nation’s physicians — although Black and African American populations account for 13 percent of U.S. residents. A new College of Medicine with Xavier, a high-ranking HBCU, and Ochsner, a high-performing academic health system with experience in training medical students, will result in representation among medical practitioners with excellent health care training, which is critical to bettering health outcomes by increasing quality of care, access, and patient trust in their health care providers. 

“With their historic agreement to establish a College of Medicine at one of the nation’s top HBCUs, Xavier and Ochsner have heeded the call to shape the health of the state, the country, and the world for generations to come,” said Dr. Anne McCall, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost of Xavier University. 

To launch the College of Medicine, Ochsner and Xavier will form a nonprofit corporation, create a new curriculum and use facilities, personnel, and administrative processes of both institutions. The new College of Medicine will be governed by a board of directors nominated by Ochsner and Xavier, with each institution appointing an equal number of directors. 

This initiative builds on a long-standing partnership between Ochsner and Xavier that dates to the early 1980s, when Ochsner and Xavier’s College of Pharmacy came together to offer more clinical training sites for pharmacy students. Xavier’s College of Pharmacy is the oldest in Louisiana and has for years been among the top in the nation in producing African American graduates with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.  

“Our work with Ochsner and other partners who hold close to their hearts a vision of healing a broken world is a testament to Xavier’s mission to promote a more just and humane society,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana. “Xavier was bestowed that mission by our founders St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament almost a century ago. Our dedication to preparing more Black health care professionals in our fight against health inequity is our answer to the call of our nation’s critical need and makes their legacy proud.”  

“Ochsner has a long and rich history of excellence in medical education, and we are honored to continue our work with Xavier to improve the health of our state and region,” said Pete November, CEO of Ochsner Health. “The Xavier medical students will get outstanding clinical training in our integrated health care system, and this significant expansion of our partnership with Xavier demonstrates our commitment to training the next generation of health care providers to solve the critical shortage of physicians in the United States and meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve.” 

“Investing in education, training and workforce development is critical to building a healthier state and stronger communities. Our partnership with Xavier furthers our Healthy State mission of enhancing diversity among health care providers, which has been linked to better care for diverse communities of our region and throughout the nation,” said Dr. Leonardo Seoane, executive vice president and chief academic officer for Ochsner Health. “We must work together to solve the challenges faced in our health care workforce and ensure communities across the country have access to the highest quality of care.” 

The New Orleans Tribune

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