The University of California Board of Regents approved establishment of a School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, paving the way for the state's first new public medical school in more than four decades.
The vote of the governing board of the University of California, meeting at UC Santa Barbara, is the culmination of more than five years of intensive planning. The UCR campus will now launch the start-up phase of the medical school.
"This is a proud day for UCR, one that will be celebrated on campus and in the community for many years to come," said UCR Acting Chancellor Robert D. Grey. "We are deeply gratified by the Board of Regents action. It means that UCR is now in a position to respond to the healthcare crisis that is facing Inland Southern California and we are committed to building a medical school in which the entire State of California will take great pride."
Maintaining momentum in the effort to establish a UCR School of Medicine was one of Grey's key objectives of his one-year tenure, which ends today. Timothy P. White, who assumes the chancellor position on Friday, July 18, also attended today's Board of Regents meeting.
"The action of the Regents is very welcome, and I applaud all individuals involved in the community and at the University who have shaped and supported this initiative," White said. "I consider the UCR School of Medicine of highest priority for the campus. As Chancellor, I will carry forward the good work of my predecessors in making the medical school a reality and provide leadership in helping meet the emerging healthcare and economic needs of Inland Southern California."
Physician shortages are forecast at the national, state and regional levels. Within California, the Inland Empire faces a physician shortfall as high as 53 percent by 2015. To minimize the impact of a looming national shortage, the American Association of Medical Colleges has called for a 30 percent expansion in medical school enrollments nationally by 2015.
The first incoming class of 50 medical students is projected to enroll in the UCR School of Medicine in fall 2012. Concurrently, the medical school will launch residency programs to offer the required training for postgraduate medical students to achieve board certification and medical licensure. Enrollment will ramp up gradually to a total of 400 medical students, 160 residents and 160 graduate students.
Key elements of the medical school's mission are training a diverse physician workforce and developing research and healthcare delivery programs to improve the health of medically underserved populations. Medical students will undergo clinical rotations in community hospitals, clinics and medical practice groups, providing future doctors experience in a variety of healthcare settings.
"The commitment to improving the health of the citizens of the region is a unique design feature of the medical school," said Phyllis Guze, M.D., executive director of medical school planning. "We will place future doctors from various backgrounds into diverse clinical settings, a perfect model for encouraging medical and cultural growth and learning."
In partnership with UCLA, UCR has provided medical education for more than 30 years through the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. Established in 1974, the program offers the first two years of medical school instruction to admitted UCR students, after which students transfer to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to finish their M.D. degrees. Since 2005, approximately 25 percent of students in the UCR biomedical sciences program have been from underrepresented backgrounds.
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