RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- The School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside has been awarded a grant of $3 million over a two-year period from health care provider Kaiser Permanente Southern California to increase the size and reach of the school's existing "pipeline programs" -- a continuum of student enrichment and academic support programs -- and thus broaden and diversify the pool of students applying to medical school.
"Imagining Your Future in Medicine," the theme of the augmented pipeline programs, addresses student needs that are distinctive at each phase of the path toward becoming a physician -- middle school, high school, community college, university and medical school. It extends beyond the School of Medicine's two signature pipeline programs, the Medical Scholars Program and FastStart, which focus on the undergraduate phase of the medical education continuum.
"This timely and generous support from Kaiser Permanente Southern California will help us vastly expand the capabilities of the medical school and inspire more young students in Inland Southern California to become service-minded physicians," said G. Richard Olds, the founding dean of the School of Medicine and the vice chancellor for health affairs. "Best of all, the gift will allow us to reach students even in middle schools, engage them early in the sciences and prepare them for admission to medical school and eventually health-related careers."
By integrating pipeline programs for middle school, high school and community college students in Inland Southern California, "Imagining Your Future in Medicine" aims to ultimately bring greater diversity to the Inland Southern California physician workforce, which currently does not reflect the ethnic fabric of the region. Its activities, such as academic and career enrichment tactics, parental involvement and financial support, are specifically designed to enhance students' eligibility for entry into medical school.
"Imagining Your Future in Medicine" strives to maintain continuity between the individual pipeline programs, leading to sustained student engagement and retention into and through completion of medical school. Once students join the pipeline, the medical school will provide a seamless pathway for academic preparation and enrichment, preparing students for entry into medical training and ultimately residency, particularly in primary care and short-supply specialties.
"Our model of outreach and engagement begins at an earlier stage than most models because we believe that if we are to effectively prepare students for successful admission to medical school, we must begin focusing our efforts when they are just starting to formulate ideas about their futures as their life aspirations begin to take shape," said Neal Schiller, the senior associate dean for student affairs at the School of Medicine.
Specifically, "Imagining Your Future in Medicine" will introduce a one-week residential summer camp called "Medical Leaders of Tomorrow" in which 40-50 educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the Inland Empire who are in the seventh through tenth grades will have access to presentations on science and health care topics, study skills and workshops and training, leadership and team building activities, laboratory and clinic tours and college admissions information.
"Medical Leaders of Tomorrow" is similar to Kaiser Permanente's Hippocrates Circle in which physician-mentors familiarize middle-school students with the workings of a medical center and the stories of physicians in an effort to inspire the students to pursue higher education.
In addition, the funding from Kaiser Permanente Southern California will support high school and community college outreach programs, the Future Physician Leaders program, a summer bridge program for incoming UCR freshmen called FastStart and the Medical Scholars Program designed for UCR undergraduates. It also supports the Postbaccalaureate Program for students who have completed their bachelor's degree and are doing additional coursework and other preparation before applying to medical school.
To strengthen student commitment to a career in medicine benefiting underserved communities, "Imagining Your Future in Medicine" will also introduce a new scholarship program for first- and second-year medical students, to be launched in 2013-14 with the first medical school class. Named the Kaiser Permanente Medical Education Reward Incentive Track (MERIT) Award program, it is designed to help produce more physicians for underserved communities and ease the debt burden of UCR's medical school graduates.
Eight recipients of MERIT Awards will each receive up to $20,000 per year for the first- and second- year of medical school and $5,000 during the intervening summer to complete a community-based research or scholarly project involving a medically underserved community or patient population in Inland Southern California.
The UCR School of Medicine will enroll an inaugural class of 50 students in August 2013, and is the first school to be developed in California in more than 40 years.