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UC Riverside School of Medicine Gets Preliminary Accreditation

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Chris Levister

The University of California Riverside said Tuesday it has received preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, allowing the school to accept its first class of 40 students in fall 2013. “This is a momentous decision for Inland Southern California and for UC Riverside,” said UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White. “This medical school is critically needed to address our region’s physician shortage and stimulate the local economy. Our community has been superb in its support of this project and on so many occasions community members have come together on this transformative and challenging effort. We simply could not have reached this point without that support.”

UCR’s medical school is the first public medical school to be built in California in more than 40 years.

An informal community and campus celebration of the accreditation milestone is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, at Rivera Plaza adjacent to Hinderaker Hall. All interested members of the community are invited to attend, and free parking will be available in Lot 1. Dr. G. Richard Olds, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school, said the positive decision by the LCME is a testament to the determination of local elected officials, community supporters, University of California and UCR leadership, donors and faculty and staff of the medical school to develop a new medical school with a public mission during an economic recession that hit California particularly hard.

“Working together, the community and the UCR campus simply persevered because expanding access to healthcare is one of the most pressing issues for Inland Southern California,” Olds said. “This milestone enables us to open the doors of the medical school and begin expanding and diversifying our region’s physician workforce.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the Affordable Healthcare Act, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000 This was UCR’s second try to gain accreditation for an independent, four-year medical school. The LCME withheld preliminary accreditation in summer 201. The denial was primarily due to the state’s failure to commit $15 million per year to fund the school. Olds said there has never been a case where a school has been turned down by the accreditation committee, reapplied a year later and received approval. He credited the support of Riverside and the surrounding communities. “I said basically, if we’re going to get this school open, we’re going to have to turn to the people in our community to step up.’ And that’s exactly what they did.” According to Olds partnering with Riverside County Supervisors, city and community leaders, hospitals and health-care workers and the UC President’s Office, the medical school was able to raise commitments of $10 million per year for 10 years.

Preliminary accreditation enables the UCR School of Medicine to accept applications for its first class of M.D. students. It is anticipated that prospective students will begin submitting their applications starting later this month when the UCR School of Medicine is added to the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®), the national central application processing service. The foundation of the UCR School of Medicine is the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences, which for more than 30 years has partnered with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to train physicians. Students enrolled in the current program complete their first two years of medical school at UCR before transferring to the UCLA medical school to complete their final two years and receive their M.D. degrees. The UCR School of Medicine will offer all four years of medical education.

Establishment of the UCR School of Medicine was approved by the University of California Board of Regents in July 2008 and Olds, the founding dean, was appointed in February 2010. Two UCR buildings are completed and ready to accept new medical students and new faculty – the new School of Medicine Research Building and the renovated School of Medicine Education Building. The medical school also operates a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences, a long-standing graduate degree program at UCR. Additionally, the medical school will develop a range of residency training programs, the post-M.D. education required for doctors to become board certified in their specialties.

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