NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A small, historically Black university known for successfully moving its graduates into medical school says it’s a step closer to creating its own medical school in New Orleans with help from a major Louisiana health care system.

Xavier University of Louisiana and Ochsner Health on Tuesday announced an agreement to create a joint College of Medicine. The school announced plans last April for such a project but didn’t say when students could enroll or what the new school is likely to cost.

The partnership aims to create a pipeline of future physicians to address inequities within the nation’s healthcare system, officials said.

“Our work with Ochsner and other partners who hold close to their hearts a vision of healing a broken world is a testament to Xavier’s mission to promote a more just and humane society,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, Xavier’s president. “Xavier was bestowed that mission by our founders, St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, almost a century ago. Our dedication to preparing more Black healthcare professionals in our fight against health inequity is our answer to the call of our nation’s critical need and makes their legacy proud.”

Ochsner and Xavier have worked together since the 1980s when the two partnered to offer more clinical training sites for pharmacy students.

“The Xavier medical students will get outstanding clinical training in our integrated healthcare system, and this significant expansion of our partnership with Xavier demonstrates our commitment to training the next generation of healthcare providers to solve the critical shortage of physicians in the United States and meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve,” said Pete November, Ochsner Health’s chief executive officer.

The new Ochsner and Xavier College of Medicine will be formed from a nonprofit corporation. The school also will create a new curriculum and use facilities, personnel, and administrations from both institutions. It will be governed by a board with an equal number of directors from each institution.

It would be the fifth HBCU medical school in the nation. The others are Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

The medical school would be at least the third in the New Orleans area and the fifth statewide. Louisiana State University has medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport. Ochsner Health works with an Australian school in the University of Queensland School of Medicine Ochsner Clinical School based just outside New Orleans. Tulane University has a medical school in New Orleans and a private osteopathic college has a campus at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

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