New UC Davis Program Targets Next Generation of Physicians to Advance Latino Health

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The University of California, Davis and The Permanente Medical Group today launched a new initiative at UC Davis School of Medicine dedicated to building the next generation of physicians committed to advancing Latino health.

The University of California, Davis and The Permanente Medical Group today launched a new initiative at UC Davis School of Medicine dedicated to building the next generation of physicians committed to advancing Latino health.

The program, called Preparando Estudiantes Para Ser Medicos, or Preparing Students to Be Physicians, (“Prep Médico” for short) is a multi-faceted initiative that will provide scholarships, mentorship and internship opportunities, a residential program, intensive language training, volunteer service opportunities, and hands-on clinical experiences for pre-med and medical students. The goal is to expand diversity in medicine and ultimately increase the number of Latinos who choose to become physicians.

“With the growing demographic of the Latino community in California, it is imperative that we be proactive in educating a future workforce that is both skilled and culturally responsive to and respectful of the community we serve,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “Launching innovative and scholarly initiatives such as Prep Médico helps UC Davis better serve our local and global community and represents a tangible way we are breaking new ground to meet society’s most pressing challenges and leading the way for higher education in the 21st century and beyond.”

UC Davis expects to serve approximately 100 students annually through the new program, which begins with scholarship support for medical school admissions testing this year and will be fully implemented by 2018.

“There is an urgent need for California and the nation’s health care providers to have a workforce of culturally competent physicians who can help address health inequities in underserved communities,” said David Acosta, associate vice chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion at UC Davis, who will serve as director of the new program.

“Our partnership with The Permanente Medical Group can be transformative, not just for UC Davis, but for California and the nation as well. Prep Médico will enable us to encourage and train more young people to become physicians and serve the rapidly growing Latino community.”

“The Prep Médico program will provide a holistic, comprehensive and longitudinal approach to supporting diverse students at key stages in their educational experience,” said Julie Freischlag, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for Human Health Sciences at UC Davis. “It will encourage and support students from their first days in college all the way through medical school to help ensure that we can increase the number of Latino physicians practicing in California and around the nation.”

The growing importance of Latino health
According to the U.S. Census, Latinos are the largest single racial/ethnic group in California, making up 39 percent of the state’s population. However, only 4.7 percent of physicians in California are Latino. Having a diverse workforce is a key component in the delivery of quality, competent health care. Studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Medicine have indicated that race concordance between patients and physicians can result in improved patient satisfaction, trust with better adherence to medical treatment, health literacy, and patient safety. Expanding the Latino physician workforce could play a significant role in reducing health care disparities in those underserved communities.

“This program is part of The Permanente Medical Group’s commitment to meeting the needs of all patients throughout California, including the rapidly growing Latino community,” said Robert Pearl, executive director and chief executive officer of The Permanente Medical Group. “As the nation’s largest medical group with more than 8,000 physicians, we understand how important it is to provide care that is culturally responsive and respectful. To do that, California and the nation will need high quality, well-trained physicians who are knowledgeable about Latino culture and fluent in Spanish. Prep Médico will help us meet that very important need.”

A new model for increasing the physicians pipeline
Prep Médico emphasizes both undergraduate and medical school elements in its program design.

Undergraduate/Pre-Medical School Components:

  • Navigating Your Path Into Medicine: A six-week residential program for freshman and sophomore undergraduates consisting of science and math intensive sessions, clinical immersion experiences, technical skills development, community immersion opportunities and mentorship from both UC Davis Health System and The Permanente Medical Group physicians. The program will enroll its first class of 40 students in 2016 with plans to grow to 60 students participating annually.
  • Pre-Med Internship, Mentorship & Research: A four-month program, where junior and senior undergraduates receive in-depth clinical and research experiences in a range of medical and surgical specialties. It includes a 6 – 12-month internship, where student scholars receive mentoring and assistance in preparing for the medical school application process. This program will enroll its first class of 10 scholars in fall of 2016 and will expand to 30 students annually.
  • MCAT Scholarship: Starting this year, 10 scholarships will be awarded to cover the expense of preparation and registration fees for the Medical College Admission Test (including travel and lodging expenses if needed.)

Medical School Components:

A certification program at UC Davis School of Medicine for students focusing on health care delivery for Latino communities.

  • Clinical Rotations: In addition to those rotations that currently exist, medical students enrolled at the UC Davis School of Medicine will have the opportunity to do two-to-four week clinical rotations with TPMG physicians from diverse specialties and in Kaiser Permanente medical centers and ambulatory care offices that provide health care services to large Latino communities. These rotation opportunities will target third- and fourth-year medical students.
  • Student-Run Clinics: Students will volunteer at a pair of community health clinics run by School of Medicine students and UC Davis undergraduates that are dedicated to serving predominately Latino communities: Clinica Tepati and Knights Landing Clinic.
  • Medical Spanish Intensive Program: In collaboration with TPMG’s existing Medical Spanish Intensive Program for physicians, UC Davis medical students and residents will have the ability to access workshops in the Bay Area designed to enhance medical Spanish language proficiency. An intensive program in Mexico is also being considered for inclusion in this component of the program.

In addition to launching the Prep Médico program, The Permanente Medical Group also announced today its renewed commitment to UC Davis’ Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care (ACE-PC) program. The ACE-PC initiative is a unique medical education program that allows a select group of eligible students to complete medical school in three years, one year earlier than traditional programs, and then directly enter into their primary care residency. The UC Davis program eliminates summer vacations and electives, and is designed for students who know they want to become primary-care physicians.

Kristina Rodriguez, a Healdsburg native who is a first-year student at UC Davis School of Medicine, has already started her clinical rotations with TPMG physicians through the ACE-PC program. She said the experience has reinforced her childhood dream of becoming a physician and providing medical care to the Latino community.

“Having support and resources are everything to people who sometimes don’t have anything,” said Rodriguez, who is the first person in her family to go to college or medical school. “It is so important to have these programs to bridge those gaps for people who have a passion, but don’t have the resources, help and support to pursue a medical education. These programs are going to be essential.”

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Charles Casey
UC Davis School of Medicine
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