The Economic Impact of Meharry Medical College

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NASHVILLE. TN — For nearly 142 years, Meharry Medical College has played a significant role in the building of the state of Tennessee’s economy. Meharry Medical College, a United Methodist Church affiliated school, is the nation’s largest private, independent, historically black academic health science center. Meharry exists to improve the health and healthcare of minority and underserved communities by offering excellent education and training programs in the health sciences; with a primary focus on health disparities issues.

The School of Medicine is recognized as a top producer of primary care physicians and is ranked 2nd among 141 academic health science centers by a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Fifty-six percent of all medical alumni practice primary care.  Each year, more than 50% of the senior class matched in primary care residency programs.  Approximately 20% of the School of Medicine’s entering class in academic year 2017/18 is from Tennessee.

The School of Dentistry is one of only two dental programs in Tennessee and one of 56 dental programs in the United States.  Forty-four percent of all black dentists in the United States were trained at Meharry Medical College.  Eighty-one percent of dental alumni practice general dentistry.  Twenty-seven percent of the College’s Dental Students from the Class of 2021 if from Tennessee.

The School of Graduate Studies and Research consistently earns recognition as a top producer of African American biomedical Ph.D. graduates and especially for producing the highest percentage of African American males graduating with Ph.D.’s in the biomedical sciences.

In recognition of the College’s prominence in education and as a leader in diversifying the nation’s health professions workforce, Meharry was chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish a National Health Policy Center.  The Center is designed to help create a more inclusive pool of experts trained to conduct research and design solutions to the complicated and systemic health and health care challenges.  The Center was established with an endowment gift of $9 million.

During the past three years, annually Meharry Medical College has received $11 million in state support to partially offset $60 million in clinical expenses associated with providing care to citizens of Metropolitan Nashville Davidson and surrounding counties. In Fiscal Year 2016, approximately $29 million in clinical expenses represented unreimbursed costs for providing indigent care and unrecovered costs.

Meharry Medical College Business Enterprise

The total economic impact of Meharry Medical College is immeasurable; however, the direct impact of Meharry Medical College in the state of Tennessee, particularly Davidson and surrounding counties, can be measured in terms of its business enterprise.   During fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, approximately $134 million in revenue flowed into the State as a result of Meharry Medical College’s presence.  Revenue sources included: tuition, government grants and contracts, private gifts and contracts, health services, investments and endowment income, and auxiliary enterprises.

These revenues were then utilized for direct expenditures associated with staff salaries and fringe benefits (1,282 full-time and part-time employees), non-personnel operating expenses, capital improvements, and student financial aid.

The College’s expenditures included:

• $81 million in salaries and wages, and fringe benefits including Social Security and Medicare;

• $43 million in vendor payments for goods and services;

• $6.8 million in student financial aid;

• $3.4 million in capital construction and equipment during fiscal year 2017.

Funds were used to purchase goods and services from other companies, inclusive of banks, local businesses, educational services, hospitals, private physicians, group practices, and state and local sales taxes.

Meharry Medical College provides a substantial impact in terms of employment, clinical care, research, and education.  These impacts demonstrate that Meharry serves as a substantial pillar   in metropolitan Nashville’s economy which translates into jobs, higher income, and greater production of goods and services for local businesses.

Meharry clinicians face many barriers due to its mission of service in a medically unserved and underserved community.  Many of Meharry’s patients do not have a history of proper health maintenance and preventative treatment; therefore, they have more advanced stages of disease.  During fiscal year 2017, the Meharry Medical Group treated approximately 163,834 patient visits.  Approximately 26.2% of these patient visits were determined to be uninsured.

Impact of Student Spending – Educational Enterprise

Annually, approximately 824 students are enrolled at Meharry Medical College in the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Graduate Studies and Research.  The College has a tangible commitment to educating minority and disadvantaged students in the health professions.  The impact of student spending relates directly to student housing, other living expenses, and activities associated with student life. Meharry’s students generated an additional $16.8 million in economic output throughout the Davidson County community and surrounding areas.

• $16.4 million in living expenses

• $360 thousand for student activities

Meharry’s students also serve the community through their engagement in volunteer work. Each year, approximately 48% of Meharry’s students engage in volunteer programs throughout the Davidson County community.

Developing Human Capital

Meharry also contributes to the ongoing development of Tennessee’s economy by educating talented physicians, dentists, and health scientists who remain in the state of Tennessee.  At the end of 2017, approximately 1,258 Meharry graduates resided in the state of Tennessee, including 918 physicians and dentists who lived and practiced in Davidson and surrounding counties.  Of the 95 counties in the state of Tennessee, Meharry graduates practice in 34 counties. The top five counties where Meharry graduates practice are: Davidson, Shelby, Williamson, Rutherford, and Hamilton.

Institutional Research

Meharry’s increasing research enterprise brings federal funding to the state of Tennessee and attracts talented scientific and clinical investigators.  This source of innovative knowledge feeds economic growth and supports discoveries that foster the elimination of health disparities locally, nationally, and internationally. During fiscal years 2013–2017, research spending at Meharry totaled $96 million.  In addition, approximately $113 million in non-research federal grants were expended.  The College strategic plan over the next five years indicates that it is on target to increase its research and research spending.

Institutional Construction and Renovation Support

The College contributes to the business sectors of the state of Tennessee through construction and renovation projects. During the past four years, approximately $59 million has been spent on construction and renovation projects.  It is estimated that these construction and renovations projects employed more than 920 individuals who reside in Davidson and surrounding counties.

 In Summary

Each dollar spent by Meharry Medical College has a rippling effect throughout the Metropolitan Nashville community, surrounding counties, and throughout the state of Tennessee.  Using the multiplier concept, it is estimated that approximately $693 million supports the state of Tennessee economy because of Meharry Medical College’s presence.

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