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Changing the Future of Healthcare Delivery: The Evolution of Community Medicine at KGI

There is a significant weakness in our country’s public health infrastructure: Across the United States, we do not prepare healthcare professionals with the personal backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and tools required to address the disproportionate burden of poor health in underserved and underrepresented communities.

To address this issue, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) created a School of Community Medicine and a new graduate degree, the Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM), to fill the gap.

The original goal was to create a medical school to prepare graduates to deliver primary care to the most vulnerable communities. While that continues as an integral part of the KGI vision, the leadership has created a more immediate and urgent response: the MSCM program.

The program recruits students from underrepresented communities who have the passion and background to work in these communities. The curriculum prepares graduates to enter the workforce directly as advanced community medicine practitioners or to continue with additional professional training in the clinical professions like medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, etc.

By creating a virtual, active-learning-based program that emphasizes critical thinking and interpersonal skills and the requisite community health knowledge, the MSCM program is designed to scale both enrollment and geographical reach. This supports accessibility and affordability, essential features required to reach the ablest students to serve the target communities.

KGI has built relationships with employers and medical schools that share our vision to promote the new profession. In that context, KGI will continue to evaluate whether a new medical school is necessary or if the pathways into medical schools provided by the MSCM program will be sufficient to reach the original objective.

“There are many passionate, talented students from historically marginalized groups who want to provide essential health services to their community, but there are many structural barriers that impede this talent pool,” said Lydia Villa-Komaroff, KGI Board of Trustees member and chair of the School of Community Medicine Board of Governors.

“With our partner medical schools, employers, and undergraduate educators, the KGI MSCM program aims to demonstrate that an appropriately designed curriculum results in an affordable path for talented students locked out of traditional healthcare training.”

L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan, committed $5 million to KGI in October 2020 as an investment to address a looming physician shortage in Los Angeles County.

Additionally, Indian billionaire entrepreneur and KGI trustee Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and her husband, John Shaw, recently donated $1 million to establish a scholarship fund for the MSCM program.

“Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw’s support will create a pathway for diverse, first-generation graduates to enter the healthcare workforce and serve underrepresented communities,” said KGI President Dr. Sheldon Schuster.

With the renewed focus on building the pathway for underserved students into health and medicine careers, KGI will move two existing programs, the Postbaccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate and Postbaccalaureate Pre-PA Certificate, within the School of Community Medicine. This shift will build increased synergies amongst pre-health students at KGI.

In the spring, Dr. David Lawrence, dean of the School of Community Medicine, will step down from his role as dean. Lawrence, the former CEO of Kaiser, has worked tirelessly on his vision of developing the MSCM program and laying the groundwork for the KGI School of Community Medicine.

“It has been a remarkable privilege to be part of this journey at KGI,” said Lawrence. “I look forward to watching how this exciting program develops over the coming years and will remain deeply committed to the success of this new effort, the students, and graduates.”

To learn more about the MSCM program, visit