Health & Medicine

Towns from Sacramento to Portland will get more doctors, thanks to $1.8 million grant

David A. Lubarsky, the new CEO of UC Davis Health, has written more than 100 papers for peer-reviewed publications on topics such as health-care economics, informatics, and operating-room management.
David A. Lubarsky, the new CEO of UC Davis Health, has written more than 100 papers for peer-reviewed publications on topics such as health-care economics, informatics, and operating-room management. Courtesy of University of California, Davis

With the backing of a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the American Medical Association, UC Davis and Oregon Health & Science University will expand the number of medical students and resident physicians at hospitals from Sacramento to Portland, the three parties announced today.

The trainees will serve in rural, tribal, urban and other communities that lack resources, UC Davis School of Medicine officials said in a prepared news release. It is hoped that they will wish to remain and serve in these areas, which have physician shortages.

The universities call their joint initiative COMPADRE, short for California Oregon Medical Partnership to Address Disparities in Rural Education and Health.

UC Davis officials said the residents and medical students will be practicing in seven medical specialties at 10 health care systems, 16 hospitals and a number of community-based clinics known as federally qualified health centers, or FQHC’s.

“We are grateful the AMA chose our UC Davis-OHSU partnership for this novel initiative,” said David Lubarsky, chief executive officer of UC Davis Health, which includes the medical school. “We are eager to launch this powerful regional coalition to reduce health disparities, strengthen the rural workforce and better align medical education with specific needs in communities where physicians are in short supply.”

The American Medical Association is providing a similar financial award to UCD-OHSU and seven other innovation projects led by medical schools around the nation, including a proposal from Partners HealthCare System, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, and University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. In all, more than 300 institutions submitted 252 proposals for funding.

Through these programs, the AMA is looking at ways to reshape medical training. The organization’s leadership, in a news release said, they wanted to ensure students prepare for and safely transition from medical school to residency, develop the skills needed to enhance their readiness for practice, and train in an environment that promotes their well-being.

“As the health care landscape and technology rapidly evolve,” said Dr. James L. Madara, the AMA’s chief executive officer, “the AMA will continue working with its community of innovation to drive the future of medicine by supporting significant redesign in physician training. Our goal is to ensure physicians are prepared to adapt, grow and thrive at every stage of their training and career. Better prepared physicians will deliver more effective and equitable health care.”

UCD and OHSU officials noted that research shows the uneven distribution of physicians and social inequalities lead to poor health outcomes for minority, tribal and rural populations. They felt one way to improve care would be to place more physician trainees into such communities because, when they graduate, they tend to practice close to where they received their education.

“Our responsibility as a medical school is not only to train outstanding physicians, but also to train physicians who meet the needs of all our communities,” said Dr. Sharon Anderson, the dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. “This grant provides the resources and framework needed to build on our existing efforts in an intentional and coordinated manner so that we have more and even clearer pathways for students and trainees motivated to serve where they are most needed.”

The AMA has provided other financial assistance to the two universities. With funding from AMA’s highly competitive Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, the Sacramento-based UC Davis School of Medicine created a three-year degree curriculum in addition to its usual four-year education to more quickly fill the need for primary care physicians. The OHSU School of Medicine used funding from that initiative to re-engineer its curriculum to medical students are prepared for the rapidly changing digital era and how to use evolving technology to better care for patients.

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