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'We need to see people like us' | NSU/EVMS create new program to increase diversity in medical fields and prevent healthcare disparities

Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School create a new program designed to eliminate healthcare disparities.

NORFOLK, Va. — On Tuesday, Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School announced a new partnership. The institutions will work to get more minorities into healthcare. 

“We need to see people like us," said NSU student Tori Johnson.

The new program is called "EVMS/NSU Research and Training Incubator for Collaboration in Health Equity Initiative" or "Enriche."

Johnson said she can't wait to be in the program to learn, observe and find increased diversity. 

“I just think it’s really great that I’m going to be with people that look like me in an environment where I feel like people will uplift us and help us get to the same goal," said Johnson. 

EVMS President Dr. Alfred Abuhamad explained how healthcare disparities are impacting Hampton Roads.

“If you look at cancer rates, they’re higher than they need to be. They’re the highest in the Commonwealth. Look at the survival of cancer, the five-year survivals there are huge disparities in healthcare between African Americans and White population," said Dr. Abuhamad. 

Dr. Abuhamad said while in the program NSU students like Johnson will get exposure to different medical positions and mentorship by EVMS staff.

“When people see someone who resembles them or looks like them, it will push them to move more towards their goal and see that they can do it," said Johnson. 

NSU students will also be working alongside EVMS staff for community-engaged research and creating an annual Heath disparities workshop.

EVMS and NSU presidents also announced they will together give $500,000 to support seed grants for the Enriche initiative.

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