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MCV Foundation Grants $4M to VCU to Advance Student DEI on Health Science Campus – VCU News

The MCV Foundation announced that it will award $4 million over four years to Virginia Commonwealth University to recruit highly qualified students from underrepresented backgrounds to the university’s five health science programs. Scholarship recipients will continue to meet the health care needs of diverse people and communities locally, nationally and around the world.

Deans at VCU’s MCV campus — which includes the College of Health Professions and schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Nursing — will use the funding to attract, enroll, educate and graduate a more diverse student population. More than 4,100 students are currently enrolled in a VCU health sciences degree program in the 2022-23 academic year, representing approximately 15% of VCU’s overall student body. Underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities among health professionals is an ongoing problem in the US

“Improving diversity, equity and access in health care delivery, research and education is at the heart of everything we do,” said Margaret Ann Bollmeier, president and CEO of the MCV Foundation. “The healthcare workforce – whether in specific communities or on a global scale – should have the same diversity as the people it serves. We are confident that our MCV campus partners will use this grant to affect significant change toward that goal.”

Research has shown that racial and ethnic minorities continue to experience higher rates of disease and earlier death, and some health care professionals diagnose and treat patients differently based on their race or ethnicity. According to VCU’s deans of health sciences, there is compelling evidence that increasing the number of healthcare providers from diverse backgrounds is a critical step in building health equity, improving access to healthcare, improving health outcomes and providing better patient-centered care.

“To create thriving communities, we need a thriving health care workforce with professionals who reflect the populations we serve,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health. “This award helps us remove financial barriers that prevent talented, qualified students from pursuing a healthcare career. As a public university and health care system, we are committed to truly representing all of the communities we serve.”

For example, VCU’s School of Nursing has continuously increased the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students and will graduate the largest and most diverse group of nurses in Virginia in 2021. Half of the currently enrolled students are non-white and more than 90% of the graduates will to work in Virginia and build better health equity in the commonwealth. The grant from the MCV Foundation will improve these numbers and help all of VCU’s health sciences schools achieve greater diversity and inclusion.

“We are deeply grateful for the MCV Foundation’s commitment to VCU’s health sciences schools and our College of Health Professions,” said Marlon Levy, MD, interim senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and interim CEO for VCU Health System. “This will allow us to compete more effectively for outstanding candidates who come from middle- and lower-income backgrounds and those who may be the first in their family to go to college, much less pursue a graduate degree . And because many such applicants come from minority groups historically underrepresented in health care delivery, this award will allow us to further strengthen the diversity of our student body.”

Studies show that health care providers who identify as racial or ethnic minorities place greater value on serving vulnerable or low-income populations. In addition, many students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds report that they intend to practice in communities similar to those in which they grew up. However, there is still insufficient representation of diverse communities of qualified students with diverse backgrounds in health science programs across all healthcare professions – medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, health administration, nurse anesthesia and others.

“While we are not a grant-making foundation, we saw this as a special chance to raise awareness of opportunities to make a difference through philanthropy,” said MCV Foundation Board Chair Ellen Spong. or Trustees, said. “We want this award to inspire others to support scholarships, fellowships and student success initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in VCU’s health sciences programs so that more people ultimately have access to convenient, safe, top-quality health care.”

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