Apr 29, 2024 - Education

Xavier's new medical school to open in downtown New Orleans

Photo shows two men shaking hands at a table with a sign behind them for Xavier University and Ochsner Health.

Executives with Xavier University of Louisiana and Ochsner Health released more details on Monday, April 29, 2024, about their plans to open a medical school. Photo: Courtesy of Drew Henry/343 media.

Xavier University and Ochsner Health's new medical school will be housed in Benson Tower in downtown New Orleans, officials announced Monday.

Why it matters: It will be the only HBCU medical school in the Gulf South and the fifth one nationally.

  • The school will also anchor the city's BioDistrict, which aims to become a center of excellence in research and health care specialities.

The big picture: The goal of the Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine, officials say, is to train doctors "who authentically mirror the communities they serve."

  • Black doctors make up 5.7% of the country's physicians, according to Xavier and Ochsner, while Black Americans represent 13.6% of the U.S. population.

Driving the news: Leaders also say the medical school will increase the pipeline for physicians in the state.

  • The U.S. is projected to have physician shortages in 2030, with Louisiana having one of the greatest shortages nationally, according to a medical forecast.

Catch up quick: Ochsner and Xavier announced the school last year, saying they will form a nonprofit corporation and a new curriculum.

  • The two previously partnered in the 1980s to create the pharmacy college, which is the oldest in Louisiana, according to a statement.
Photo shows Leonardo Seoane sitting next to Gayle Benson.
Leonardo Seoane, center, will be the dean of the new medical school. Photo: Courtesy of Drew Henry/343 media.

Zoom in: Leonardo Seoane, the current executive vice president and chief academic officer of Ochsner Health, will be the medical school's founding dean, officials announced yesterday.

State of play: Xavier is the country's only historically Black Catholic university.

  • It has produced more Black students who earn medical degrees and doctorates in health sciences than any other higher education institution in the nation, the school says.

Meanwhile, Xavier is working on three additional projects on its campus: a new residence hall, a parking garage and dining hall renovations.

What's next: The medical school will open when it has preliminary accreditation, according to Ochsner Health spokeswoman Della Hasselle.

  • Officials are starting the process this year, and it normally takes three years, she said.
  • The school hopes to have 50 students in its first class.
Photo shows a man talking to a crowd.
Xavier and Ochsner held the event Monday in Benson Tower. Photo: Courtesy of Drew Henry/343 media.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the medical school will be the only one in the Gulf South but it isn't the first. Dillard opened one in 1896 that closed in 1911.

The story also has been updated with photos from the event.

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