Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice is the first woman to serve as dean and president of Morehouse School of Medicine. She’s also the first to successfully grow the freshman class to 100 students in almost 20 years, increasing diversity in medical education.

But how?

The Board of Trustees spoke about increasing the Atlanta med school’s number of freshman students entering the program. But leadership changes became a cycle, causing the number to continuously stall at only 56 students.

Just three years after accepting the honorable roles of the School of Medicine’s president and deans, she did what those before her couldn’t. The medical school was finally celebrating its “first class of 100 aspiring doctors.”

So, how did she do it?

What Other Institutions Should Learn from Morehouse School of Medicine

What Other Institutions Should Learn from Morehouse School of Medicine. Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

Morehouse School of Medicine: A History of Educational Diversity

Morehouse School of Medicine has boasted of having a “holistic admissions process” since it was established in 1975. This put administrators on the path to recruiting med school students that others generally overlooked.

This, of course, meant specifically recruiting African Americans with dreams of becoming doctors.

Dr. Rice believes other institutions should look at School of Medicine’s accomplishments as a model. Because the school serves as an HBCU – Historically Black Colleges & Universities – it takes pride in understanding the nation’s need for healthcare professionals trained to care for Black men.

Who better to serve that demographic than other Men of Color?

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice: Putting Morehouse on the Road to Success

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice graduated from both Harvard Medical School and Atlanta’s very own Emory School of Medicine. After completing her residency, she went on to work and serve for:

  • University of Kansas
  • National Institutes of Health
  • S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Meharry Medical College in Nashville
  • Center for Women’s Health Research

In 2011, Dr. Rice began working for Morehouse as an executive VP and dean. Soon, she found out that the surgery program would be placed on probation if didn’t appoint a department head soon.

She put Morehouse on the “road to success” by streamlining the process. The school’s VP Dr. Ed Childs from Scott & White Hospital/Texas A&M Health Science Center to lead the surgery program. Dr. Rice also gave the new department head all the resources needed to employ more surgeons.

These resources also helped Dr. Childs create more clinical opportunities at Morehouse School of Medicine for both medical students and residents.

Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine Strives for Diversity in Medical Education

Today, stats show that the highest percentage of women Surgeons of Color in the US is located at Atlanta’s School of Medicine. The school provides innovative clinical care to about 250 patients at Grady Memorial Hospital’s robotic surgery program each year.

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice is still working toward what she considers to be her calling… her purpose in life:

“…making sure that every day she does something to make a difference in someone else’s life, especially aspiring physicians.”

Improving the overall, long-term health of Black men is especially important two Dr. Rice. That’s why she continues to focus on increasing the number of Black healthcare professionals practicing in America.

The Morehouse president says the school only had 257 US-born Black males in attendance during the 2017-2018 academic year. However, there were 10,000 enrolled in medical schools across the country.

Montgomery Rice notes:

“We know that this impacts not only the learning environment, it also impacts the quality of care diverse people receive when they don’t have the opportunity to receive care from a culturally competent diverse workforce.

More black males are needed and we plan to address that by focusing our efforts on recruiting and retaining more in line with our mission to create a more diverse workforce.”

Learn More About Diversity in Medicine