Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Activates Partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine to Expand Black Representation in Health Care

Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle is one of seven sites in the United States
to host undergraduate medical education training program.

SEATTLE – AUGUST 25, 2022Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) is launching an undergraduate medical training program for students from Morehouse School of Medicine.  Virginia Mason Medical Center is one of seven sites in the nation, and the only site in the Pacific Northwest, selected by CommonSpirit Health and Morehouse School of Medicine to address two of the most pressing challenges in health care – a shortage of diverse clinicians and the need for more equitable care.

"At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we are committed to building a more diverse team of clinicians to better reflect the distinct communities we serve. Through the historic partnership between CommonSpirit Health and Morehouse School of Medicine, we are honored to take this important step to advance health equity and build an inclusive network of care," said Ketul J. Patel, CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

The first group of Morehouse School of Medicine students began their four-week rotations at Virginia Mason Medical Center in August. The program will host three new students every month for rotations in anesthesiology, urology, and system-based practice – a unique elective that introduces students to the Virginia Mason Production System as well as quality and safety systems and practices.

The partnership is part of the More in Common Alliance, a 10-year, $100 million initiative to improve both access and quality of care patients receive.

"Patients have improved outcomes when treated by clinicians of similar backgrounds who share lived experiences. The More in Common Alliance is an important step in addressing disparities in our health care system, by intentionally investing in increased cultural competency and representation in partnership with health systems like Virginia Mason Franciscan Health," said Erica Sutton, MD, associate dean of academic programs and affiliations, undergraduate medical education at Morehouse School of Medicine.

"VMFH is committed to providing leading training programs across our system to develop the next generation of health care providers. This initiative expands medical education to build a more diverse and dynamic workforce, which will have a positive impact on our health system, as well as the larger Puget Sound region," said Dr. Ryan Pong, vice president and chief academic officer at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. "On behalf of our entire team, we are excited to welcome Morehouse School of Medicine students to Seattle."

Morehouse School of Medicine and CommonSpirit Health are uniquely positioned to impact health equity through education and training opportunities, and improved access and care delivery. While there are 155 accredited medical schools in the US, Morehouse School of Medicine and the other three historically Black medical schools produce the majority of the nation’s Black physicians. CommonSpirit Health is one of the largest health systems in America with medical centers across the country including Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. The system serves some of the most diverse communities in the country and is a leading provider of Medicaid services.

About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health 

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is a world-class health system serving the Pacific Northwest, offering access to some of the country’s most prestigious experts and hospitals that are internationally recognized for superior quality. Our expansive system builds upon the strength of more than 300 sites of care, including 11 top-tier hospitals, 18,000 team members, and 5,400 employed physicians, advance practice providers (APPs) and community providers to improve the health of our communities. Together we deliver easily accessible, instantly responsive and digitally connected patient-centric care.

By bringing together the brightest health care minds through Benaroya Research Institute, a global leader in autoimmune disease and immune system research, we deliver the most advanced therapies and technologies for our patients. We are also proud to be the home of Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. We are committed to addressing health care disparities by caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, including the poor and underserved, providing more than $300 million in community benefit – free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission — the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.