Bloomberg Philanthropies gave Drew University $7.7 million.

Bloomberg Philanthropies gave Drew University $7.7 million.

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles inked an agreement with Ross University School of Medicine on Sept. 12 that could triple of the number of students who attend medical school.

The collaboration aims to create a pipeline for qualified premed students at Charles R. Drew University to attend Ross medical schools being set up in the Caribbean.

It also aims to educate more doctors who could help alleviate a physician shortage in South Los Angeles.

“We feel this collaboration with RUSM is a tremendous opportunity for us both to help address one of (the) critical healthcare issues of our time: The shortage of primary care physicians in general, and in medically underserved communities of color, in particular,” said Dr. David M. Carlisle, president and chief executive of CDU, in a statement.

The university typically receives more than 3,000 medical school applications, but only has space for 28 medical students each year. The Watts-Willowbrook-area school also educates nurses, radiologists and others to serve the health care industry.

Seventy percent are from Los Angeles County, while 80 percent return to practice in underserved communities after they graduate.

The agreement – the first of its kind for either school – provides a path for an additional 50 premed students at Charles Drew University to attend medical school at a Ross University campus in Barbados beginning in 2019, pending likely regulatory approval.

Ross University, a member of the Chicago-based Adtalem Global Education, has a history of educating diverse doctors, of whom 75 percent choose to practice in primary care. Its licensed physicians practice in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles has conducted a physician needs assessment showing a primary care physician shortfall of 500 primary care doctors across the region.

“The intent of this exciting partnership is to take on the challenge of inadequate numbers of underrepresented minority doctors in the U.S. using novel student engagements, validated support programs and senior level commitments to success,” said Dr. William F. Owen, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine, in a statement.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.

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