CommonSpirit, historically Black medical school partner to train more nurses

Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles said they are joining forces to diversify and expand the nursing workforce.    

CommonSpirit is a 140-hospital nonprofit, Catholic health system formed from the merger of San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives in February 2019. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, one of four historically Black medical schools in the U.S., offers about 20 graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs in medicine and healthcare.    

As part of their partnership, CommonSpirit and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science will make efforts to grow the medical school's enrollment.

This includes establishing mentorship programs for minority high school students, as well as building relationships with pre-college educators and guidance counselors, to help ensure students have needed information related to becoming a nurse, both entities said in a May 9 news release.

"Right now, we face the challenge of tackling a cycle of systemic barriers that have led to a lack of diversity among healthcare providers," CommonSpirit CEO Lloyd Dean said in the release. "Through our partnership, we will help create a pathway by driving early interest in nursing careers and increasing capacity for students from underresourced or underrepresented groups so that they can pursue a career that puts them in the middle class."

David Carlisle, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, said in the release that medical school students are focused on social justice and health equity, and the partnership "helps increase … the likelihood that diverse patients have access to a provider who looks like them."

The undertaking by CommonSpirit and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is the latest academic partnership involving CommonSpirit related to growing the healthcare workforce. In December 2020, CommonSpirit and Atlanta-based Morehouse School of Medicine announced a 10-year, $100 million partnership to develop and train Black physicians.

CommonSpirit also has academic partnerships with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

The effort by CommonSpirit and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is part of a trend through which universities and health systems are attempting to replenish the nursing workforce. For a list of similar programs, click here.

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