Historically Black medical schools urge more spending in hearing with Bernie Sanders

May 12, 2023, 12:43 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — To train more Black doctors, the federal government needs to bolster funding and make more training slots available for historically Black medical schools, leaders of those universities told U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday.

“Our HBCU medical schools are the backbone of training Black doctors in this country.” Dr. Hugh Mighty, Howard University’s senior vice president of health affairs, said at a hearing in Atlanta.

Students, meanwhile, told the independent senator from Vermont who chairs the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that the heavy debt many aspiring physicians pile up is particularly discouraging to nonwhite students, whose families are less likely to be able to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees.

“The greatest barrier to entry for burgeoning Black physicians is the immense and seemingly insurmountable financial risk waiting to shackle all those who pass through the gates of medical education,” Dr. Samuel Cook, a Morehouse School of Medicine resident, told Sanders.

Cook said he has $320,000 in debt and could earn more, on a per-hour basis, working as a restaurant cook than as a medical resident. Cook said the federal government should cancel medical student debts and pay medical school tuition for students going forward.

Sanders met with leaders of the Morehouse School of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College and Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science on the Morehouse campus in Atlanta.

“We are going to take your testimony and do our best — I’m not making any promises — but we will do our best to incorporate your ideas into legislation,” Sanders told the leaders and students.

The former Democratic presidential candidate made cancelling all student debt a central pillar of his 2020 campaign. He also backs the need to train more physicians willing to work in underserved communities.

Morehouse School of Medicine President Valerie Montgomery Rice told Sanders that Black medical schools have less money and fewer academic affiliations, making “support from federal programs that are specifically designed to level the playing field” very important.

Graduates of the schools need better access to more slots in residency and fellowship programs to complete their training, Rice and others said. They noted there aren’t enough residency slots available to train all the doctors that are needed and that recent expansions have skipped hospitals with links to the schools.

“So if indeed it is a priority to increase the number of physicians in communities of color and medically underserved communities, there should be specific provisions in each of these programs that direct a meaningful portion of these slots to teach in hospitals and health centers affiliated with our HBCUs,” Rice said.

A proposal in Congress to increase the number of Medicare-financed residency slots by 14,000 over seven years could help that problem. Leaders of the schools support the plan.

Leaders including Dr. David Carlisle, president of Drew in Los Angeles, said that federal programs to bolster research at the schools aren’t providing enough money to erase historical disadvantages.

Dr. James Hildreth, the president of Meharry in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier proposed that Congress invest $5 billion to improve research and development at the four schools, as well as in health graduate programs at other historically Black colleges and universities. Two other historically Black institutions, Xavier University of Louisiana and Maryland’s Morgan State University, are setting up their own medical schools.

Jeannette E. South-Paul, the provost of Meharry, said the federal government should also bolster summer study, mentorship and scholarship programs that encourage nonwhite students to apply to medical schools. She said such “pipeline” programs are crucial in recruiting minority physicians.

United States News

Associated Press

Chicago shooting kills 7-year-old girl and wounds 7 people including small children, police say

CHICAGO (AP) — Eight people were shot including a young girl who was killed in what Chicago police believe was gang-related violence on the city’s South Side on Saturday night. The 7-year-old girl was shot in the head and died, while a 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and listed […]

47 minutes ago

Associated Press

A jury of his peers: A look at how jury selection will work in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities say 4 people are dead after a train collided with a pickup in rural Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Four people are dead after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a train in rural Idaho Saturday, authorities said. Idaho State Police said the pickup was carrying a 38-year-old man, 36-year-old woman and two children, who were all from Nampa. The vehicle was traveling on a private road […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with history of DUIs sentenced to 15 years to life for California crash that killed mom-to-be

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman with a history of convictions for driving under the influence has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for a crash that killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman and left her baby in critical condition. Courtney Pandolfi, 44, pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Utah school board member who questioned a student’s gender loses party nomination for reelection

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A conservative Utah State Board of Education member who faced calls to resign after lawmakers said she bullied a student on social media lost her nomination for reelection Saturday. Natalie Cline needed at least 40% of the delegate votes at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, but she fell short […]

8 hours ago

An Iranian demonstrator chants slogans while attending an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin (P...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday, prompting internal discussion among U.S. leaders.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Historically Black medical schools urge more spending in hearing with Bernie Sanders