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Three Tennessee health care institutions join together in Memphis to provide more opportunities for Black medical students

Meharry Medical College partners with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and University of Memphis for this educational collaboration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Meharry Medical College, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the University of Memphis today announced a new multi-level collaboration to expand opportunities for education, training and research for Black medical students and the communities they serve in West Tennessee and throughout the state.

The collaboration, expressed in a letter of intent signed by the three institutions and the largest faith-based privately funded health care clinic in the country Church Health, will further their collective efforts to diversify the health care provider pipeline and provide essential care for Black and minority residents in the state and across the nation.


Specifically, the institutions will collaborate to:

  • Provide essential health care and services for area underserved and minority populations
  • Establish new clinical training opportunities and clerkships for Meharry and University of Memphis students and residents at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
  • Train a diverse health care workforce and strengthen the pipeline of well-trained medical professionals who will go on to serve rural and underserved urban areas
  • Provide University of Memphis students with direct and preferred access to postgraduate medical and biomedical sciences programs at Meharry
  • Develop opportunities for research collaboration between Meharry, Methodist and the University of Memphis to advance discovery in the treatment of disease and improve the effectiveness of community based services
  • Establish a clinical affiliation with Church Health to provide educational and health care benefits to the Memphis community


“We are delighted for this historic opportunity to work alongside these legacy institutions in the Memphis region to provide meaningful experiences for our students and care for those who need it most,” said Meharry President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, Sr. “There is a critical need throughout our country for a pipeline of Black talent within medicine. Now more than ever, the Black community needs greater access to preventive care and to providers they trust. This partnership with Methodist and the University of Memphis will support our ongoing efforts to diversify students’ training and educational experiences so they are fully prepared to serve.”

Meharry is committed to pursuing collaborations that provide Black health care professionals with the opportunity to directly impact health disparities, address social determinants of health and improve health for minority communities across the state of Tennessee. 

Within the last few years, Meharry has launched partnerships with Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University and others that seek to expand the pipeline of diverse medical professionals. Methodist Le Bonheur, a partner of Meharry’s through the United Methodist Church, and the University of Memphis share these goals and have come together to commit to diversifying the provider pipeline, ensure meaningful clinical experiences for students and provide essential care for those in need.

“This partnership allows MLH to expand on our commitment of providing exceptional training opportunities for the next generation of physicians, nurses and medical professionals,” said Michael Ugwueke, DHA, Methodist Le Bonheur president and CEO. “This is a transformative partnership that comes at a critical time for those in health care, particularly in the Mid-South where patients face a number of health challenges and we work to address health disparities. Leveraging the expertise of Methodist, Meharry and the University of Memphis will allow us to implement innovative care models in community outreach, health education and research to meet the needs of the patients we are privileged to serve.”

With the addition of these newest affiliations, Meharry students will receive medical training in three Memphis-based clinical settings: Methodist Le Bonheur, Church Health and Baptist Memorial Hospital.

In the Memphis area, the number of physicians compared to the population is much lower than the Tennessee average, and the number of specialist physicians compared to the population is even lower. Shelby County has increasing rates of diabetes, new cases of HIV that are three times the state average and life expectancy differences of more than a decade between some communities. Health inequities cut across race and income, with Black and Hispanic individuals more likely to suffer from chronic conditions and become seriously ill or die from them.

Meharry, Methodist and UofM believe that by educating more Black physicians who will develop first-hand experience treating these specific issues, they can markedly improve health outcomes for the entire region moving forward.

"The UofM is very excited for the opportunity to partner with such tremendous education and industry leaders in healthcare," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "This will enhance our relationship with Methodist Le Bonheur, a highly respected organization in our community that has worked with and supported the UofM for years. It will begin a new and promising relationship with Meharry Medical College, an institution we view as one of the very best nationally in training students to effectively identify health disparities and treat patients, especially those in underserved communities."

“The formation of this partnership comes at a critical time as we work to advance healthcare and health education,” said Dave North, University of Memphis Board of Trustees chairman. “I have no doubt the programs and initiatives developed as a result of the UofM joining with these leaders in healthcare will have a significantly positive impact on students and communities throughout our state, particularly in West Tennessee.”