Ross University Blog

Ross Presents Success Fulfilling Social Mission at Health Equity Conference

September 19, 2016

Joseph Flaherty, MD<br>
Dean and Chancellor

Joseph Flaherty, MD
Dean and Chancellor

Medical schools with a strong social mission can make significant contributions to addressing the U.S. healthcare system’s most pressing challenges, according to Dr. Joseph A. Flaherty, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine. Flaherty addressed the 2016 Beyond Flexner Conference on Monday, Sept. 19, in Miami. He said international schools like Ross are helping to increase diversity in the physician workforce and producing large numbers of primary care physicians, many of whom choose to practice in medically underserved areas.

“At Ross, a founding goal was to provide opportunity to nontraditional students. Our student demographics have evolved over the last 35 years to include significant representation by minority students and first-generation immigrants for whom English may not be the first language,” Flaherty said. “Over the last decade the school has added to its original mission a commitment to primary care and an interest in servicing underserved areas. Typically, between 60-75 percent of Ross graduates enter residency in primary care.”

The Beyond Flexner Conference brings together health professionals committed to more equitable healthcare, focusing on social determinants of health, disparity reduction and diversity promotion. Flaherty said that although many medical schools have incorporated social mission, it may be neglected at the expense of clinical care and research activities. However, making socially-engaged outcomes a specific focus of the school may help energize faculty and students and gain support from other stakeholders.

Flaherty said that Ross is fulfilling its mission, citing its contribution to primary care and the demographics of the student body and graduating classes. Non-white students make up more than half of enrollment, and in the five-year period of 2011-2015, 16 percent of graduates reported being a member of an underrepresented minority group. Over the last 10 years, more than 900 Ross graduates who are African-American or Hispanic have entered residency programs across the United States, the majority in primary care.

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