When it comes to HBCUs, Xavier University is one of the best places to go if you’re going pre-med. But now, the small Louisiana university is planning to open a medical school and graduate school of health sciences of its own.
Reynold Verret, Xavier University president said in a statement:
“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.”
The medical school program is still in the planning stage, which the president says should take at least three years. But Xavier has had preliminary conversations with area hospitals about admitting students for clinical rotations. When the school opens, it will be one of only five medical schools in the country.
Founded in 1925, Xavier has long had a reputation for some of the highest numbers of pre-med graduates in the country. A 2021 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges ranked Xavier among the top five universities in the country with the most Black pre-med students. Pierre Johnson, Maxime Madhere and Joe Semien Jr. famously collaborated to write their 2018 book “Pulse of Perseverance: Three Black Doctors on Their Journey to Success,” about how their experience at Xavier prepared them to become successful board-certified doctors.
Xavier hopes the program will allow more Black students to pursue careers in medicine and help diversify the medical field. A 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges report showed the number of Black men enrolled in medical school decreased between 1978 and 2014.
“It’s important that we not only address the physician shortage but that we address the diversity of the physician population,” Verret said. “As we learned throughout the pandemic – but we knew beforehand – trust and representation are linked. Trust is an important part of public health and also in addressing health disparities.”