by Carjamin Scott on Friday, January 8, 2021 at 9:42a EST
Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College have launched the Dr. Levi Watkins TSU to Meharry Accelerated Medical and Dental program. Dr. Levi Watkins is a 1966 TSU alumnus and is the first surgeon to successfully implant an automatic defibrillator into a human patient. The device has been used by millions of patients and is still the first-line of treatment and prophylactic therapy for patients at risk for sudden cardiac death due to ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
After graduating from TSU, Dr. Watkins became the first Black person to obtain a Medical Degree from the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. By the time he graduated in 1970, he was still the only person enrolled in the Medical school at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Watkins attended Johns Hopkins University for residency and became the first Black Chief Resident in Cardiac Surgery. He fought to increase the number of Black students admitted into medical school and joined the admissions committee at Johns Hopkins. He increased minority representation by 400 percent. He worked to improve health disparities and health education access for minorities around the world.
In his honor, TSU established the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, Vanderbilt University memorialized him with the Levi Watkins Jr MD Chair and Johns Hopkins created the Levi Watkins Jr MD Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Students interested in enrolling at TSU for the Dr. Levi Watkins TSU to Meharry Accelerated Medical and Dental program receive:
1) Dr. Levi Watkins endowed scholarship, includes full tuition, fees, and room and board
2) Accelerated access to medical school, earn a Biology degree in 3 years.
3) Residence in Honors College and TSU’s newest living and learning facility
4) Access to Watkins Scholars Cohort, includes mentorship with current Meharrians and Meharry Doctors
Learn more here.