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Grant aims to expand inland Southern California's primary care workforce

July 12, 2016

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside has received a $2.3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The five-year Health Resources and Services Administration Primary Care Training and Enhancement grant, which began July 1, allows the medical school to help transform the local healthcare system. The school plans to accomplish this by embedding continuous quality improvement in inland Southern California primary care practices throughout the healthcare provider training spectrum.

"We will deploy a research curriculum to equip medical students, residents, practicing physicians, and pharmacists with the population health skills needed to address inland Southern California's poor chronic disease metrics and healthcare disparities," said Michael Nduati, MD, the grant's principal investigator and the associate dean of clinical affairs in the School of Medicine. "We will expand the pipeline of future healthcare leaders through longitudinal interprofessional training. We also will ground lifelong faculty development into a new, integrated model of healthcare training towards improving the delivery of care to the inland Southern California community."

Nduati, who is also the director of hospital medicine, explained that inland Southern California is still characterized by low-income areas, areas of underserved populations, and poor air quality. The region faces a severe shortage of primary care physicians and poor health outcomes, particularly from chronic conditions such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

"We represent a large geographic region, which makes it more difficult to adequately staff healthcare providers to care for the population," he said. "Access to care is extremely limited for much of our community. But this grant will allow us to train across the spectrum from student to practitioner to hopefully affect a significant impact on the health of inland Southern California."

The UC Riverside School of Medicine is one of the few medical schools in the country, especially on the west coast, emphasizing primary care and improving the health of the community - both of which constitute the focus of the Health Resources and Services Administration grant.

"As a relatively new medical school we are agile and able to executive new methods of training quickly," Nduati said. "We already have an interprofessional model of training that links medical, pharmacy and nursing trainees together. This helps promote better team-based care when these trainees are working on their own as fully credentialed health professionals. Also, we train across a spectrum, linking medical students to residents and to attending physicians - this creates higher yield practice improvement projects and promotes a culture of continuous quality improvement, leading to better and more efficient health care."

The grant's co-PIs are Heidi Millard, MD; Kendrick Davis, Ph.D.; and Gerald Maguire, MD. Additional UCR key personnel are Jeff Swain, Ph.D.; Gemma Kim, MD; Parastou Farhadian, MD; and Daniel Kim, MD. Two non-UCR key personnel also will be involved.

"This generous grant should help us see great improvements soon in the efficiency and efficacy of health care provided to our population," Nduati said. "This would mean better care at more affordable cost."

The UCR School of Medicine will graduate its first class of students in 2017. Its mission is to improve the health of the people of California and, especially, to serve inland Southern California by training a diverse workforce of physicians and by developing innovative research and health care delivery programs that will improve the health of the medically underserved in the region and become models to be emulated throughout the state and nation.
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number 1 T0BHP30013-01-00, entitled Agents of Change for a Healthier Tomorrow: Transformational Integration of Quality Improvement with Primary Care Education for $2,292,445. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

The University of California, Riverside 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 opened 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.

University of California - Riverside

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