Charlotte, N.C./March 6, 2023 – Johnson C. Smith University has partnered with Northeastern University’s Charlotte campus to create a pipeline for aspiring Black healthcare professionals.
The partnership will create opportunities for JCSU students to first attain foundational pre-health education from JCSU before transitioning to Northeastern’s accelerated Bachelor of Nursing, Master of Public Health or Master of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs.
The goal of the partnership is to increase the number of Black health care providers, specifically nurses, into a field that is in dire need of diversification.
“Johnson C. Smith University has been here servicing individuals who have been excluded from higher education since 1867, so the opportunity to continue to grow the potential of that student base for us is very exciting,” said Dr. Melita Pope Mitchell, associate vice president of Academic Affairs at JCSU.
According to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s 2022 Racial Equity Report, Black people are represented in the health-care field, but the majority are home health aides, who earn less than $20,000 a year, the lowest entry-level salary among home health-care service providers. Meanwhile, other professional areas in health care, like nursing, are dominated by white people.
According to a study found in the National Library of Medicine, racial disparities in the use of surgical procedures are well-established. The study found that Black patients have a higher crude mortality rate than white patients across a wide range of surgical procedures, in large part due to the higher mortality rates at the hospitals they attend.
This, combined with a history of race-targeted drug testing in studies in America such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted between 1932 and 1972, there is a lot of medical distrust among communities of color.
That’s why in Charlotte, where the Black community makes up more than 35 percent of the population, Northeastern found it important to work with JCSU to set a clear pathway to increase medical diversity in Charlotte and beyond.
“Nursing outcomes and patient outcomes show that having a workforce that reflects the patient population is conducive to better outcomes and better trust within the health-care space,” says Angela Hosking, CEO and regional dean of Northeastern’s Charlotte campus. “We thought a comprehensive partnership agreement between us and Johnson C. Smith made beautiful sense.”
The accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program anchors Northeastern’s Center for Health Sciences in Charlotte and serves as a potential bridge for JCSU students who want to continue or complete their bachelor degree.
Northeastern is the only university in North Carolina that has been approved to offer a degree-completion track, which means JCSU students with 62 credits or more who haven’t yet received their bachelor’s degree can transition into the four-semester, 16-month Nursing program.
On top of its programmatic offerings, Northeastern is also forming partnerships with Charlotte area health-care facilities that can offer scholarships and employment opportunities to students while they’re in the program.
JCSU, with its many long-standing community relationships, also provides Northeastern and its students new opportunities to form connections with people and organizations it might not otherwise have access to.
“Developing that relationship between JCSU and Northeastern improves our ability of making stronger connections in those areas and providing opportunities for our students to learn in those areas, because they’re going to need to work in those areas once they come out of school,” says Gibbie Harris, a visiting assistant clinical professor at Northeastern’s Charlotte campus.
Pope Mitchell hopes a partnership like this will open the doors for the Black community and people of color to enter leadership positions in the health care field and eventually serve as inspiration for generations to come.
“It’s exciting to know that with our partnership with Northeastern that we are placing students who are historically underrepresented in several areas into fields where they can go and not only provide excellent care to all but to serve as role models for those who are coming up behind them to say, ‘I belong in this area as well,’” Pope Mitchell says.