NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College are recruiting Black high school students to a first-of-its-kind premed program.
The Nashville HBCUs are teaming up to get more Black students on track to become doctors and dentists.
"We hope we'll see some better health outcomes with an increase in the number of African American doctors and dentists because we know among this population there is this historical distrust with the medical establishments," said Dr. Glenda Glover, president of TSU.
The schools announced the accelerated program in November and will welcome the inaugural class in July.
"There is a need for more African American physicians and dentists to treat the underserved population that we represent," Glover said.
Students will be enrolled in the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute. Successful students will study for three years at TSU and then go on to Meharry for four years of medical or dental school.
Institute Chair Barbara Murrell taught Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. at TSU in the sixties. "Our push to bring some more Levi Watkins into the world," said Barbara Murrell.
Dr. Watkins was a world-renowned heart surgeon. The TSU alum is credited with implanting the first automatic defibrillator in a human patient.
Murrell believes the students that enroll in the program in his honor will be role models for other Black kids.
"They have not seen enough people that look like them to encourage them to understand that they too can be a part of this profession and that's one of the goals of the Dr. Levi Waktins Institute, to create a pipeline," she said.
High school students with a 3.5 GPA and at least a 28 on the ACT are eligible. More information about the program is available on the TSU website. The deadline to apply is March 31.