FSU is entering the agreement with Meharry Medical College to improve the "quality of life for individuals and families" living in the Sandhills region.
"We have a major disparity; a major shortage of physicians, especially physicians of color who understand the culture, who can make a difference, who understand why people eat what they eat and do what they do. So they can help impact the health care disparities we have in this region of the country," FSU Interim Chancellor Dr. Peggy Valentine told ABC11.
According to the university, the partnership will address the medical needs of the region by establishing and implementing the following:
- A 3-plus-3-plus-3 program (three years for pre-med from FSU, three years of medical school at Meharry, and three years residency in Cumberland County)
- A pre-dental track for students interested in dentistry.
- A rural training track residency training program in the southeast region of North Carolina
Valentine says Meharry Medical College will provide 15 slots a year: 10 for medical students and five for dentistry.
"We applaud Fayetteville State University for taking this important step in educating and training a new generation of physicians and dentists for the communities they serve," said Meharry President and CEO James E.K. Hildreth Sr., Ph.D., M.D. "Working with FSU to prepare health care providers who will return to serve those in rural southeastern North Carolina is enormously important to the state, the region and the nation."
The Memorandum of Understanding between Meharry and FSU is only the start of improving the quality of life for individuals and families living in this part of North Carolina, Hildreth said.
The program begins immediately and also establishes a pre-dental track for students interested in dentistry.
Xiamana Spikes, sophomore, and Tiereey Huff, freshmen, are FSU students who are participating in this new program.
Spikes says she was already looking into medical school options before even learning of this partnership. "To be able to have this pathway, from being able to graduate from Fayetteville State to going to medical school up in here... I think is a good opportunity."
Huff, who comes from a rural area of North Carolina, knows the importance of having access to hospitals and licensed medical staff. "I feel like just having this in this area can help this rural area as well, especially, especially for people of color and low-income households."