Swedish and Meharry Medical College remain partners in nurturing diversity, equity and a new generation of doctors

February 29, 2024 Swedish Communications

[3 min read]

In this article:

  • Swedish is home to a unique diversity initiative designed to attract and retain Black physicians and medical professionals in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Medical students from Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest historically Black health science centers, participate in surgical rotations at Swedish as they prepare for residency. Students receive assistance with transportation, housing and living expenses.
  • The partnership aims to increase the number of Black and African American physicians in the Puget Sound area and address longstanding care disparities.

As we close out Black History Month 2024, it’s critical to remember that for too long, Black history has been marked by exclusion, marginalization and inequity. Health disparities continue to have a lasting and lethal effect on Black Americans.

Swedish is committed to closing those gaps and building a fairer — and healthier — society for all. We believe there’s no better place to start this work than at home. In 2021, Swedish Health Services and Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically Black academic health science centers, teamed up to create a groundbreaking partnership aimed at reducing health disparities among people of color and building a more diverse and inclusive health care environment in the Pacific Northwest.

“We understood that talking about these problems was just was not enough anymore. We have to do something,” says Marc Horton, M.D., residency program director and system executive medical director of surgical services, surgical chair, at Swedish. “This program gives Black third-year medical students the opportunity to learn about Swedish and plays an important role in addressing the disparities — racial and financial — that affect Black physicians and patients. As a Swedish physician, it’s exciting to work with this new generation of doctors and be a part of this change in health-care.”

Watch video: Meharry students share why the unique partnership with Swedish is vital for a young generation of doctors, and for their future patients. At top: Jaylen Thomas, a student in Meharry's Orthopedics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program, shares why his experience at Swedish was important to his professional development. 

The goal of the Swedish/Meharry program is to nurture a new generation of skilled doctors who will bring a much-needed lens of diversity and equity to medical care. The collaboration also plays a vital role in Swedish’s ongoing work around reducing health disparities and expanding culturally competent care for people of color that is focused on health, well-being, and patient experience.

Today, the thriving, three-year-old partnership between Meharry and Swedish’s General Surgery Residency Program continues to offer third-year medical students the opportunity to move through surgical rotations as part of their medical curriculum. Students receive assistance with transportation, housing and living expenses. Additionally, Swedish offers a Diversity Sub-Internship Scholarship, which is open to all fourth-year students from U.S. medical schools and racial minorities historically underrepresented in surgery.

“Diversifying our health-care workforce is pivotal to ensuring better health care outcomes and access for all. It starts by providing quality training, resources and support for the next generation of Black medical students,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College. “Our partnership with Swedish Health Services will allow our students to gain real-world clinical experience and make a difference, especially in underrepresented and underserved communities.” 

“Our partnership with Meharry, as well as our collaboration with the University of Chicago Trauma Center, not only demonstrates of our mission, vision and values, but also reminds our Swedish community of what we are all about, and why we do what we do,” says Dr. Horton. “It’s more important now than ever to continually ask ourselves, ‘If not now, when? And if not us, who?’.” 

Additional resources

“Health equity starts with honoring the humanity in everyone you meet.” 

Watch video: inviting diverse stories into medicine

Dr. Nwando Anyaoku named first Chief Health Equity Officer

The JUST Birth Network 

Swedish invests in community health

About Providence Swedish

Providence Swedish has served the Puget Sound region since the first Providence hospital opened in Seattle in 1877 and the first Swedish hospital opened in 1910. The two organizations affiliated in 2012 and today comprise the largest health care delivery system in Western Washington, with 22,000 caregivers, eight hospitals and 244 clinics. A not-for-profit family of organizations, Providence Swedish provides more than $406 million in community benefit in the Puget Sound Region each year. The health system offers a comprehensive range of services and specialty and subspecialty care in a number of clinical areas, including cancer, cardiovascular health, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive health and women’s and children’s care. 

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