Recognizing the importance of forging strategic partnerships as a means of managing change under such conditions, the leadership of Meharry Medical College (MMC) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), in the fall of 1997, began informal talks to explore opportunities for a mutually beneficial collaboration. This led to the formation of a steering committee which included Dr. John E. Maupin, Jr., President of Meharry Medical College, Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, Vice-Chancellor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the deans of each institution’s school of medicine – Drs. A. Cherrie Epps and John E. Chapman, of Meharry and Vanderbilt, respectively.
By April 1998, working groups comprised of representatives from the two institutions were laying the foundation for a formal alliance based on a variety of combined and/or shared resources. Based on common interest the following five major categories were defined:
Clinical Science Training – to explore cooperative and collaborative medical training activities (clerkships, residencies, and fellowships) at Nashville General Hospital at Meharry (NGHM), VUMC, and affiliated institutions of both schools.
Academic Support – to benefit student curricula and enhance the academic support infrastructure of both institutions. The initiatives in this category focus on three specific areas: undergraduate medical education; student affairs and admissions, and information management and libraries.
Biomedical Research and Training – to facilitate and expand collaborative research efforts; broaden the experiences of graduate trainees; and enhance the expertise of faculty.
Health Services Initiatives – to expand patient care capabilities and services; increase patient access; improve coordination of health services; and secure Nashville General Hospital at Meharry (NGHM) as an outstanding resource for Nashville, while benefiting the training and research interests of both MMC and VUMC.
Community Involvement – to facilitate interchange with health care providers in the community, the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance plays a prominent role in formation of the Nashville Consortium of Safety Net Providers.This consortium consists of those clinics whose mission is to serve the uninsured and underserved population of Davidson County. The consortium obtained funding for the formation of Bridges to Care, a program to assist families in locating a medical home.
The Alliance, now in its tenth year, has assisted in establishing joint and shared residencies in surgery, pediatrics, ophthalmology, orthopedics, urology, cardiology and other medical specialties.
During the ten year period, over 190 million dollars in joint research and research training grants have been obtained; the current rate is around $35 million in joint grants annually.
Both medical schools have opened the senior electives to both student bodies and over 50 students per year enjoy these elective courses.
The Meharry-Vanderbilt Student Alliance (MVSA) has over 200 students from both campuses and now includes medical, dental, nursing and graduate students. In addition to sponsoring social events, the student alliance fosters community projects, teaching programs in middle school, and seminars from leading faculty members from both campuses.
Both medical libraries are now open to both student bodies. As joint grants have increased, so has the number of faculty who has joint-appointments at both medical schools.
The Alliance has provided opportunities for collaboration between the two institutes and for collaboration with project in the community.
The elimination of health disparities between the majority and minority populations has continued to be a major focus of the Alliance projects.