NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, but studies show the African American community has been disproportionately affected by the virus. That's because risk factors such as obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in the African American community.
The newly created Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute/TSU/Meharry Accelerated Pathway Program hopes to address the existing healthcare disparities.
"While we deal with this global pandemic that knows no color, we know that COVID-19 has disproportionately ravaged the African American communities and other communities of color coupled with the negative health outcomes that has systematically plagued our neighborhoods," said Dr. Glenda Glover, President of TSU.
Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College are teaming up to get more black physicians and dentists in underserved communities through their new accelerated program.
The accelerated program seeks to reduce the amount of time it takes students to enter medical school. The traditional four-year Bachelor of Science degree will become a three-year program. That means students will spend three years pre-med at TSU before going on to study medicine or dentistry at Meharry. The years of total completion will be seven years, instead of the customary eight years.
Students participating in the pathways program will be those with the highest academic preparation and quality. Requirements for admission will be based on a 3.5 grade point average, a score of 1300 on the SAT (two components) or a 29 on the ACT.
“This partnership between TSU and Meharry will definitely increase the number of African American physicians and dentists,” said Dr. Nolan McMurray, interim dean of TSU’s College of Life and Physical Sciences. “And it will address the health disparities affecting the African American community, not only locally, but globally.”
The Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute is projected to welcome the first cohorts in the fall of 2021-22.