Meharry Medical College, a historically Black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, has entered into a partnership with Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The goal of the partnership is to develop an accelerated program to produce physicians who will practice medicine in underserved rural areas of Tennessee.
The agreement will create a six-year pathway for selected high-ability students to attain a bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University and a medical degree at Meharry. Students will spend three years at Middle Tennessee State University then matriculate at Meharry for a three additional years of medical education, earning degrees from both educational institutions.
James E.K. Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College, noted that the health status of Tennessee is among the worst in the country, with the state ranked in the bottom five for many important health metrics. One reason, he said, is the fact that there aren’t enough doctors to care for those who are sick. “It is imperative to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state and to incentivize them to practice in underserved areas if Tennessee is to improve the overall health of its citizens,” said Dr. Hildreth.
Dr. Hildreth is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University. He was the first African American Rhodes Scholar from the state of Arkansas. At Oxford University, he earned a Ph.D. in immunology. Returning to the United States, he earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University. He became the 12th president of Meharry Medical College in 2015.
It is hoped that the first students in the new six-year dual degree program will begin training in the fall of 2018. Generous financial aid packages will be available for students who agree to practice medicine in underserved rural areas of Tennessee.