Daming Ye

On May 23, the California Senate subcommittee on education passed Senate Bill 27 (SB 27), which will allocate an annual fund of $15 million for the UCR School of Medicine in the state budget. Delivering a joint letter for the allocation request, state Senator Richard Roth and state Assemblymember Jose Medina expressed that the UCR School of Medicine will address the primary care physician shortage in the United States by training new physicians and sustaining the medical workforce.

“Placing the UC Riverside Medical School into the budget is a critical step forward. We have waited far too long to ensure our region’s families have access to meet their healthcare needs,” said Medinas in a press release. “This medical school will not only provide more doctors in our community, but also be a real advantage to the economic competitiveness of the region.”

State funding is extremely essential in ensuring the success of the new medical school and its residency program. Since much of the determining factor for where a physician will ultimately practice is where that physician finishes his or her medical training, the budget that goes toward training the physicians will keep them where they are most desperately in need.

“The state of California only has 17 medical school slots per 100,000 [individuals in the general population], half of the average of what the state would have, which is 31 slots per 100,000. We are third from the bottom in medical school per capita among states,” said Richard Olds, Founding Dean of the UCR medical school.

According to the California HealthCare Foundation, 72 percent of California’s 58 counties have an undersupply of primary care physicians, with primary care physicians making up just 34 percent of California’s physician workforce.

As the fastest-growing region in the state of California, Riverside County continues to have the lowest physician-to-patient-care ratios in all of California. With only 120 available doctors per 100,000 patients, there is a shortage of 3,000 primary care physicians.

The shortage is attributed to various factors ranging from population growth, an aging medical workforce and limited growth in medical education programs in California over the last few decades. The University of California, a research institution of higher education, possesses the largest number of health care facilities in the state and plays an influential role in filling up health care workforces that are in dire need by the state.

In 2005, UC conducted an in-depth review on new medical schools to address the physician shortage problem. The Council considered UCR’s 30-year history with the joint UCR-UCLA Haider program a strong foundation for developing an independent medical school.

“The UCR medical school received its first preliminary accreditation seven months ago in the October of 2012. It is the first public medical school in California in 48 years,” said Olds. “We have already built our buildings; we have already become accredited; we have already accepted our first class and it is about time that the state of California recognizes the importance of funding the medical school.”