The Morehouse Mystique
Becoming a Doctor at the Nation's Newest African American Medical School
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Morehouse School of Medicine has made a profound difference in the lives of countless people. It fills a unique niche in medical education by training doctors who care about low-income and minority patients. I am so proud of the school’s remarkable accomplishments and am grateful to have been a part of it during the beginning. ...
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In fall 2007 I received a call from Marc Nivet, chief financial officer at the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. He had just read my book Envisioning Black Colleges and, thankfully, he enjoyed it. Nivet asked whether I would be interested in writing a history of Morehouse School of Medicine, which the foundation was funding. He put me in touch with Louis W. Sullivan, the school’s president emeritus, who was spearheading the ...
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For more than a century, the United States has vigorously debated how to provide medical care to the greatest number of people. Politicians, interest groups, and ordinary citizens—in an effort to guarantee access to health care for the millions of Americans who are without it—have argued over whether to adopt a European-style system of socialized medicine or to tinker with the existing system of private insurance. Lost in the din is the fact that minority ...
1 African Americans and the Medical Profession
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The first known African American who graduated from medical school in the United States was David John Peck, who finished his studies at Benjamin Rush Medical School in 1847. According to Wilbur H. Watson, author of Against the Odds: Blacks in the Profession of Medicine in the United States, “the next twelve years following Peck’s success witnessed the efforts of several other African Americans and institutions of higher education to pave the way for an increasing presence of blacks in medicine.”1 ...
2 Birth of a Medical School
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The Medical Education Program at Morehouse College was born in the midst of racial turmoil and during a time of limited opportunity for African American students and Black physicians. A key factor in its birth was a 1967 report, Physician Manpower in Georgia, released by the Georgia Office of Comprehensive Health Planning, which warned that the state was facing a dire shortage of medical doctors. According to this document, Georgia’s ...
3 Building His Bike as He Rides It
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At a press conference on the day of Louis W. Sullivan’s 1975 appointment to the position of dean of the Morehouse College Medical Education Program, President Hugh M. Gloster said, “We celebrate a tremendous triumph today, and we welcome you, Dr. Sullivan, for consenting to come and help make the Morehouse College Medical Education Program a reality.”1 Several prominent guests were at that press conference, including Arthur Richardson, the ...
4 Coming into Its Own
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Morehouse School of Medicine was incorporated in Georgia on August 12, 1980, with a Board of Overseers that included Calvin Brown, Robert Foreman, Joseph Gayles, Hugh Gloster, Howard Jordan, Nelson McGhee, Louis Sullivan, and Clinton Warner.1 Sullivan now served as president of the medical school as well as its academic dean. On July 1, 1981, the institution became independent of Morehouse College, and the Board of Overseers became the ...
5 Leadership in Transition
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It had been many years since Louis Sullivan’s first term as president began in 1981. With the founder and robust leader of the institution leaving to take another position in 1989, what would become of Morehouse School of Medicine? In many respects, the institution maintained the course that Sullivan had set for it. But the period of steady growth that ensued in that year also ...
6 A Controversy Erupts
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The man Morehouse’s Board of Trustees chose to be Sullivan’s successor had once aspired to be a Methodist minister, and he had the warm and friendly personality to match that aspiration. Hand picked by Sullivan himself, James Gavin stepped into the leadership role at Morehouse School of Medicine on July 1, 2002. A son of Alabama, he received his undergraduate education ...
7 Recovering from Turmoil
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Upon James Gavin’s dismissal from Morehouse School of Medicine, David Satcher was asked to serve as interim president. Satcher had a formidable reputation. From 1998 to 2001, during the Clinton administration, he served as the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States; at the same time, he was Assistant Secretary of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ...
8 Nurturing Students
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Students who choose to attend Morehouse School of Medicine have typically been dedicated to primary care. They are committed to practicing medicine in communities that other people avoid. According to Walter Sullivan, Morehouse students “see a need to go into communities to keep people from taking buses and going halfway across town to see a physician.”1 Marjorie Smith, a longtime Morehouse faculty member and a member of the admissions ...
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Morehouse School of Medicine was built in the spirit of all of those pioneers in African American medicine who lived decades earlier—Black students who braved the often hostile climate at historically White colleges and universities, and African American doctors who, against the odds, established their own medical schools and private practices in rural communities throughout the United States. Unlike its predecessors, however, Morehouse ...
Appendix: Alumni Carrying Out the Mission
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 28 halftones, 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2012