RIVERSIDE, Calif. (http://www.ucr.edu) — A budget compromise worked out and signed today by Gov. Jerry Brown means that UC Riverside's School of Medicine will receive full and continuous funding of $15 million per year — long-sought assistance that enables the school to flourish and greatly facilitates its ongoing accreditation.
The $15 million for the UCR medical school was included in the 2013-14 state budget and budget trailer bills adopted by the California State Legislature on June 14 and 15. The budget provides for an increase in the University of California (UC) base budget of $125.1 million for the new fiscal year, along with approval for UC to restructure its bond debt, generating an estimated $80 million annually for the next decade. Funding for the UCR medical school will now be part of UC's base budget annually going forward.
The agreement triggered celebration on campus and in the surrounding community.
"The creation and development of the medical school has been the vision of many at UC Riverside and in our community for many years," said UC Riverside Interim Chancellor Jane Close Conoley. "Today we reached a milestone for the health of our region and the future of UCR."
She said the leadership of Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) and Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) was critical to funding the UC Riverside School of Medicine. Both campaigned on getting on-going funding for the medical school, and after election both immediately introduced legislation to that effect.
Roth called the $15 million of ongoing state money in this year's state budget a victory for the medical school, the health of the people of Inland Southern California, as well as the regional economy. "This victory will benefit all of us today and our families for generations to come," he said.
Medina said the Legislature took a major step forward to meet the area's need for doctors and healthcare providers. "The UC Riverside Medical School will also advance the economic competitiveness of the region, bringing much needed jobs within the health related fields," he said.
"Without their leadership, without their efforts elevating this as a budget priority, it would not have been successful," said Patrick Lenz, the UC's vice president for budget, and one of the chief architects of the agreement.
The School of Medicine will enroll an inaugural class of 50 students this August, and is the first medical school to be developed in California in more than 40 years.
Establishment of the UCR School of Medicine was approved by the UC Board of Regents in July 2008. G. Richard Olds, the school's founding dean and the vice chancellor for health affairs, was appointed in February 2010, and the school received preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in October 2012. Two UCR buildings are completed — the new School of Medicine Research Building and the renovated School of Medicine Education Building — and faculty and staff have been preparing for several years for the official opening on Friday, Aug. 9.
"We would not have reached this point without Assemblymember Medina and Senator Roth's tireless efforts to champion our new medical school and secure in the Legislature's budget full and continuous funding," Olds said. "We can now start addressing one of the most severe shortages of primary care physicians in the nation."
The mission of the school is to expand and diversify the physician workforce in Inland Southern California and to develop research and health care delivery programs that improve the health of medically underserved populations.
According to the California HealthCare Foundation, the Inland Empire has 40 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, far fewer than the 60 to 80 considered sufficient. The demand for new doctors and healthcare providers will increase as California implements the Affordable Care Act and an estimated several hundred thousand of Inland Southern California residents become eligible for healthcare coverage.
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.
UCR will now offer all four years of medical education as an independent medical school and, through the newly named Thomas Haider Program at the UCR School of Medicine, will reserve up to 24 of the available medical school slots to students who attend UCR for at least six consecutive quarters and complete their bachelor's degree at UCR.
The medical school also operates a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences, a long-standing graduate degree program at UCR. The school will also develop a range of residency training programs, the post-M.D. education required for doctors to become board certified in their specialties.
The University of California, Riverside (http://www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus will open a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.
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