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CommonSpirit Health and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science partner to diversify and grow nursing workforce

Posted in: Featured-home , Announcements  4 minute read time

Partnership will help historically Black medical school Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science expand capacity to train more nurses.

(CHICAGO and LOS ANGELES – May 9, 2022) – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), one of the nation’s four historically Black medical schools, and CommonSpirit Health, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, are responding to the national nursing shortage through a new partnership that will grow and diversify the nursing workforce.  

“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we predicted a nursing shortage due to the retiring nursing workforce and the care needs of our aging population,” said Kathy Sanford, D.B.A., R.N., Chief Nursing Officer at CommonSpirit. “Nursing schools simply don’t have the capacity to train nurses fast enough to replace those leaving the profession. As one of the nation’s largest employers of nurses, we knew we needed to be part of the solution.”

A 2021 American Association of Colleges of Nursing study found that, although interest in nursing programs is strong, 80,521 qualified applications were not accepted at schools of nursing due primarily to a shortage of clinical sites, faculty and resource constraints. The partnership will expand access to quality education and training by adding faculty and resources that help CDU, one of the nation’s leading educators of Black and other underrepresented minority nurses, grow its enrollment.  

“In addition to clinical excellence, our students are focused on social justice and health equity for underserved populations in our surrounding communities in South Los Angeles and around the world who are affected by health disparities,” said David M. Carlisle, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at CDU. “Expanding our program helps increase their impact and the likelihood that diverse patients have access to a provider who looks like them.”

Studies show that having access to a provider with shared lived experience helps improve trust and outcomes, yet only 22.2% of Black adults reported being of the same race as their health care provider compared to 73.8% of White adults. 

“Right now, we face the challenge of tackling a cycle of systemic barriers that have led to a lack of diversity among health care providers,” said Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit. “Through our partnership, we will help create a pathway by driving early interest in nursing careers and increasing capacity for students from underresourced or underrepresented groups so that they can pursue a career that puts them in the middle class.”

CommonSpirit and CDU will establish mentorship programs for diverse high school students and build relationships with pre-college educators and guidance counselors to help ensure that students know their options and the prerequisite coursework necessary for a career in nursing.

“As the nation’s leading provider of Medicaid services and an employer of more than 45,000 nurses, this partnership is an extension of CommonSpirit’s larger commitment to creating a more diverse and dynamic workforce that reflects the communities we serve,” said Dean. 

CommonSpirit is expanding access to careers in health care through its academic partnerships with Baylor College of Medicine, Creighton University, and the Morehouse School of Medicine.  Together with the Morehouse School of Medicine, CommonSpirit has launched the More in Common Alliance, a 10-year, $100 million initiative to help address the lack of representation among health care providers. In addition to growing medical education programs, CommonSpirit has established scholarships to help remove barriers to pursuing a career in health care, including a program at Creighton University that will provide 100 full-tuition scholarships to underrepresented students of color and $3 million awarded to diverse health care professionals through the CommonSpirit Equity Impact Scholarship.

About CommonSpirit Health
CommonSpirit Health is a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 by Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. With its national office in Chicago and a team of over 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit operates 140 hospitals and more than 1,500 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2021, CommonSpirit had revenues of $33.3 billion and provided $5.1 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs. Learn more at

About Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Sciences
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, located in South Los Angeles, offers nearly 20 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs in medicine and healthcare. The University is recognized by the State of California as a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and is a federally designated Historically Black Graduate Institution (HBGI). Ranked as the #2 school in America for student and faculty diversity and the only historically black university west of Texas, CDU has been repeatedly cited as a top school in the nation for its graduates’ early career salaries and for providing high-income careers for previously low-income students.

Visit for more information about Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.


Publish date: 

Monday, May 09, 2022

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