The findings of the California Future Health Workforce Commission make it clear: The medical school that Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) plans to establish is sorely needed.
In its final report released in February, the commission made up of 24 leaders representing private and public hospital systems, nonprofit healthcare organizations, policymakers, and educators described California’s urgent need for a larger workforce to care for a growing, increasingly diverse, and aging population. The report noted how particular regions of the state, including Inland Empire communities close to KGI’s Claremont campus, face the greatest shortages of healthcare professionals, especially primary care physicians.
“The work of the commission lasted two years, dug deep, and validates what we’ve been thinking at KGI,” says KGI President Sheldon Schuster. “There is a healthcare crisis at hand. The report findings validate what those in the Inland Empire already feel: We are smack in the middle of a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area.”
The KGI School of Medicine is being developed to help address this shortage. Announced in July 2018, the school will focus on training students to become primary care physicians who can improve health outcomes in Southern California’s highly diverse communities.
“Preparing culturally empathetic doctors to serve in under-resourced communities is the motivation for this new medical school,” says Schuster.
“KGI has an opportunity to educate medical students differently and to encourage them to provide care where it is needed the most.”
The KGI School of Medicine has drawn the attention of the California Future Health Workforce Commission. During the briefing meeting in Sacramento, commission member Dr. Hector Flores, who chairs the family medicine department at Adventist Health White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, noted plans by KGI as well as Kaiser Permanente to establish medical schools that respond to the state’s healthcare needs.
“The healthcare shortage will need to be addressed across the intersection of the groups represented at the meeting,” says KGI School of Medicine Chief Development Officer Molly Chestnut, who recently traveled to Sacramento for a briefing on the commission’s report. “It’s important to bring the different sectors into the room around this shared cause to think creatively and collectively about how to solve the crisis.”
KGI is working to identify the right partners to help make its new School of Medicine a reality. The search for a founding dean is under way, and KGI has already received support from the Hearst Foundations, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, and a significant lead commitment from an anonymous donor to advance the school’s development. To help ensure that the project continues to obtain essential funds, Chestnut became fully dedicated to the School of Medicine in February after working with all KGI programs for nearly three years.
“We will likely have a founding dean in place by this summer,” says Chestnut. “With hard work and a community-first vision, KGI will help address the growing shortage of care providers.”