Xavier University & Ochsner Health partner to create College of Medicine
Published 10:06 am Saturday, January 21, 2023
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana and Ochsner Health announced an agreement to establish a joint College of Medicine. The two institutions will create a strong physician pipeline that addresses longstanding inequities within the nation’s health care system and builds the health care workforce of the future. By anchoring their partnership with a College of Medicine, Xavier and Ochsner affirm their legacy of advancing health care excellence and education for the next generation, bringing new opportunities to marginalized populations in Louisiana and the United States.
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.”
XULA and Ochsner: A Legacy of Collaboration
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world and disproportionately affected people of color, highlighting health disparities faced by historically marginalized communities. Ochsner Health and Xavier again forged partnerships to improve health equity through new graduate programs in health sciences and the establishment of the Ochsner Health and Xavier University Institute for Health Equity and Research (OXIHER). A few years before, Xavier and Ochsner also worked to improve diversity within the health sciences through a memorandum of understanding to establish a new Physician Assistant (PA) Program. In May 2022, Ochsner and Xavier celebrated the first graduating class of 37 students in the full-time graduate PA Program, which leads to a master’s degree in health sciences and trains the next generation of providers to make a meaningful impact on health care.
“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.”
In 2022, Xavier became an integral advisory board partner for Healthy State by 2030, an ambitious plan to lift Louisiana off the bottom of national health rankings. Collectively, partners across multiple sectors and industries from across the state are committed to comprehensive public health initiatives, education, and outreach.
“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, MD, FACP, 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.”
Closing the National and Local Workforce Gap
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. Ochsner, the largest academic health care system in Louisiana, has a long history of training medical students, residents, and fellows. Ochsner is invested in excellent health care, workforce development and education of communities throughout the Gulf South. The institutions are uniquely positioned to co-lead efforts in closing the health care workforce gap.
“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 of Louisiana.
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 5% of the nation’s physicians — although Black and African American populations account for 13% 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.