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Follow the Data Podcast: Reducing the Student Debt Burden for Historically Black Medical School Students

A medical student working on campus at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Across the country, Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to die at nearly every stage of life. Experts cite a variety of factors contribute to this disparity, including pre-existing conditions and lack of access to trusted health care providers.

Black patients have better health outcomes when treated by Black doctors – but the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic threatens to worsen existing disparities potentially preventing current Black medical students burdened with medical school debt from completing their degrees.

Last fall, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $100 million gift to the four historically Black medical schools in the U.S. – Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. This gift will help ease the debt burden of medical students currently enrolled and receiving financial aid in order to help increase the number of Black doctors in the U.S.

This gift is the first investment of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, an effort to increase intergenerational Black wealth and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities. In this episode, recorded in December, Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads the Greenwood Initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies, sits down with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, and Dr. James Hildreth, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. They discuss what makes their students and school communities so special, the underlying factors contributing to health disparities in Black communities, and how Bloomberg Philanthropies’ gift will enable students to choose what and where they practice medicine based on passion, not a paycheck. This is the second episode in a two-part series around this investment.

You can listen to the podcast and past episodes in the following ways:

And catch up on the first episode in this series: