Historically Black colleges and universities are some of the nation’s most prized and significant institutions.
Some were founded in response to widespread segregation, resulting in limited economic and educational opportunities for African Americans.
Others were established in the aftermath of the Civil War to offer educational and economic opportunities to newly freed slaves.
Nevertheless, HBCUs have served and continue to help students from all walks of life, preparing them for careers in a variety of sectors.
HBCU medical schools have a unique mission. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. will experience a dire physician shortage over the next two decades. This is especially acute in rural areas.
Furthermore, there are serious inequities in the American healthcare system, which most adversely affect African Americans and other underserved populations. There is also a shortage of physicians who identify as Black or African American, which compounds the inequity in the healthcare system.
Thus, prospective and current students at HBCU medical schools have their work cut out for them. The unique mission is two-fold: to diversify the healthcare workforce and deliver high-quality and compassionate care to underserved and underprivileged populations.
HBCU medical school physicians are not only trained to be among the best in their fields, they are also in the best position to address social justice issues. In this article, we present excellent HBCU medical schools that have rich legacies of academic excellence as well as firm commitments to the ideals of equity and inclusion.
Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, GA)
The Morehouse School of Medicine is one of the younger HBCU medical schools on this list.
While it is not as old as the other schools on this list, MSM has nevertheless proven itself to be one of the top medical institutions in the country, with a social mission.
According to the latest US News & World Report list, MSM ranks #22 for “Most Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas,” #18 for “Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care Fields,” and #80 for “Most Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas.”
MSM was founded in 1975. Its curriculum and training, since day one, have been underpinned by a commitment to improving the overall well-being of individuals and communities, increasing diversity among health care professionals, and promote primary health care through research, education, and service.
Med students are trained to become exceptional physicians who are passionate about delivering high-quality care to underserved urban and rural populations in Georgia and throughout the country.
The M.D. program is noted for its low student-faculty ratio and for successfully matching nearly 70% of its graduates in primary care specialties.
Faculty in the M.D. program are not only internationally renowned but are supportive mentors to medical students. One example is Dr. Marietta Collins, who has received numerous prestigious awards for her work in behavioral interventions for minority youth, adults, and families.
She has also published her work in some of the top, peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings and Scientific Research.
MSM’s institutes and research centers are the sites of groundbreaking and impactful research. The National Center for Primary Care was the first congressionally sanctioned center founded to address and resolve inequities in the primary care system.
The center has expanded rapidly since its establishment in 2002, training the next generation of health practitioners to address the most pressing health issues of the day.
Meharry Medical College (Nashville, TN)
With its illustrious history, dating back to its founding in the post-Civil War era, Meharry Medical College will remain atop many rankings. The medical college has produced outstanding physicians and notable alumni.
Notable alumni include a handful of historical “firsts,” such as the first African-American women epidemiologist, Theresa Green Reed, and the first African-American president of the American Heart Association, Edward S. Cooper.
The US News & World Report ranks Meharry among the top 20 schools for the number of graduates practicing in primary care fields and working in underserved areas. These rankings reflect the school’s unwavering commitment to compassionate care and the elimination of health disparities.
Because of its location in Nashville, Meharry med students have access to a broad range of educational and professional opportunities outside of campus.
Nashville itself is a major hub of the healthcare industry and a home to several renowned hospitals, such as the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. The Nashville General Hospital at Meharry is the primary teaching hospital for the medical college’s residency programs.
The school boasts strong residency programs in family and community medicine, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Resident physicians in the Family & Community Residency program receive comprehensive and dynamic training based on the Patient Centered Medical Home model, which considers patients and their families’ unique needs, preferences, and values.
In recent years, all residents have passed their board exams and work in various inpatient and outpatient settings in recent years.
With such an outstanding historical and current profile, it should not at all be a surprise that getting into Meharry Medical College is a challenging feat.
The most recent acceptance rate for the college was a mere 1.6%!
The average GPA for the matriculated group of students was 3.5, and the average MCAT score was 503.
Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, DC)
Howard University College of Medicine has one of the best primary care programs in the country, sharing the 84th spot on the US News & World Report with Temple University. It is also one of the most challenging medical schools to get into, with an acceptance rate of 2.9%.
That’s even lower than the acceptance rate for Harvard Medical School! Why are so many students vying for a spot at HUCM?
Like many prestigious HBCU schools in the country, the school was established in 1868, after the Civil War. Since its founding, it has produced one of the highest numbers of African American physicians in the country.
The College of Medicine houses one of the only teaching hospitals located on the campus of an HBCU, Howard University Hospital.
Med students receive high-quality education and training, complete with access to state-of-the-art equipment. The Washington D.C. area is the site of numerous nationally and internationally renowned hospitals, which means that students have access to professional opportunities beyond the classroom.
HUCM students have access to myriad research opportunities through one of the school’s renowned combined M.D./Ph.D. programs. Courses in the Department of Anatomy are taught by world-class researchers who are at the top of their specialties.
Dr. Marjorie Gondre-Lewis, the Director of the Developmental Neuropsychopharmacology Laboratory, is a prolific researcher whose work on developmental drug exposure and alcohol addiction has been published in esteemed international journals.
What does it take to get into HUCM? The average GPA and MCAT score for the matriculated student in the 2020-2021 admissions cycle was 3.55 and 503, respectively.
Prospective students must have at least 71 semester hours of science coursework, meet the Technical Standards of the College of Medicine, and complete the online assessment, CASPer, and submit standard application materials such as letters of recommendation.
Excellent GPA and MCAT score do not guarantee admission into HUCM; candidates must demonstrate potential and the appropriate combination of social and intellectual traits, in addition to academic achievement.
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (Los Angeles, CA)
Since its founding in 1966, the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science has been emboldened by the vision of “excellent health and wellness for all in a world without health disparities.”
What CDUMS shares with the other schools on this list is a reputation for training the next crop of competent and compassionate physicians dedicated to social justice and resolving inequities in the world of healthcare.
To date, the school has graduated over 3,400 physicians, physician assistants, and healthcare professionals. Over 2,000 other specialists have been trained through its residency programs.
CDMU ranks among the top, nationally and statewide, in terms of post-graduation income. In recent years, graduates have consistently passed their board exams at exceptionally high rates, and over 90% report favorable, post-graduation prospects.
Getting into any of the school’s graduate and professional programs is quite challenging.
In Fall 2020, CDUMS received 4,951 applications for its graduate programs and 3,218 for its professional program.
Only 1% of professional degree applicants were admitted, and only 7% were admitted into a graduate program. The M.D. program alone only accepted 1% of applicants!
What attracts prospective students to CDUMS, besides stellar post-graduation stats?
The school’s commitment to social justice is embedded in its research programs. Its research centers and institutes have produced groundbreaking, high-quality research to improve the overall health and wellbeing of minority and underserved populations.
The Drew Center for AIDS Research Education and Services (Drew CARES) has been supported by internationally esteemed organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the California Department of Public Health.
The centers have implemented domestic and international programs, providing treatment and intervention to vulnerable populations in the US and developing countries.
In sum, CDUMS walks the talk when it comes to delivering its mission of training the brightest young minds in the future of medicine.