In the Beginning

NMF was founded in 1946, in Chicago, by Franklin McLean, MD, PhD, an eminent physician who saw, well before others, that the lack of opportunities for African American physicians was a problem for our nation. He understood that we needed more minority physicians to achieve basic equality of opportunity, and to ensure access to quality health care. This was true in 1946, and it is true today.

As a precursor to the Civil Rights movement, NMF began giving scholarships to African American physicians and medical students who otherwise could not have afforded a medical education. As broad social changes swept America, NMF expanded its commitment, giving grants on a national basis to other groups underrepresented in medicine. Calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion rose in 2020 and 2021, but we are now experiencing a backlash. Despite the shifting political and cultural winds, NMF has committed itself to disrupting racism in medicine.

Through its scholarship programs, NMF has been instrumental in increasing the number of physicians and researchers underrepresented in medicine in the U.S. In recent years, NMF has expanded its efforts with fellowship programs that help medical students address health disparities in underserved communities, in the U.S. and globally.

Alumni Engagement

In 2011, NMF published its first alumni directory, and began systematically to reach out to alumni across the U.S. With support from Kaiser Permanente, who provided encouragement and a generous planning grant, NMF began to conceive of a network of alumni to be active partners in our programs, mentors to our students, donors and supporters of our events, and a voice for NMF in their own communities and nationally. NMF is expanding its special events, launching new programs to serve alumni, and providing opportunities for interaction among NMF alumni and friends. NMF has already increased its presence in Chicago, the first home of NMF, and now home to more than 670 of its alumni; in 2012 we opened an NMF Chicago office, in space generously donated by the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. NMF now has a headquarters in Alexandria, VA, and regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. NMF's  National Alumni Council draws from all geographic regions, all medical practice specialties, and includes alumni working in health care, academic, corporate, and non-profit settings. 

NMF looks forward to a period of growth and creativity, drawing on generations of NMF alumni to support the future generations of physicians and health care leaders who will achieve health equity for all.

Nmf History