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Medical School Plan Approved by UCR Faculty


UCR Academic Senate Votes its Support of Medical School Proposal

Next, the campus proposal to establish a research-based School of Medicine will be submitted to the UC Office of the President and the systemwide Academic Council.

(March 4, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -— The UCR faculty body voted unanimously Tuesday, March 4 to support establishment of a medical school at the University of California, Riverside.

Following this afternoon’s vote at a special meeting of the Riverside Division of the Academic Senate, the campus proposal to establish a research-based School of Medicine will be submitted to the UC Office of the President and the systemwide Academic Council. The proposal must also be voted upon by the UC Board of Regents, anticipated in July.

The vote by the campus Academic Senate, which represents the faculty in shared governance of the University, follows six months of planning that involved approximately 80 campus and community representatives. The resulting framework for the medical school was evaluated and endorsed by 10 separate committees of the Academic Senate prior to today’s vote.

“I want to thank the many UCR faculty members who served on the work groups that developed the medical school plan and who as members of senate committees thoroughly evaluated the proposal,” said Acting Chancellor Robert D. Grey. “I also want to express gratitude to the community representatives, medical community leadership, staff and alumni who have participated. This monumental effort has resulted in a compelling proposal due to the expertise, time and dedication of all involved.”

Academic Senate Chair Tom Cogswell noted there is broad and deep support across campus for the initiative and praised campus leadership for an inclusive planning process that gave faculty abundant opportunity to influence the plan and ask questions. “This will be a transformational event in the history of the campus and the Inland Empire,” he said, adding the proposal will next be considered by the systemwide Academic Senate.

Key elements of the medical school’s mission are training a diverse physician workforce and developing research and healthcare delivery programs to improve the health of medically underserved populations. Inland Southern California — the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial — faces physician shortfalls of as high as 53 percent by 2015.

To help meet regional and statewide needs, the medical school will utilize an innovative clinical education model where medical students and residents will have experiences in a variety of healthcare settings thus exposing them to a broad range of patients in hospitals, clinics and medical practice groups.

The foundation for the medical school will be the existing UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. The program offers the first two years of medical school instruction to admitted UCR students, after which students transfer to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to finish their M.D. degrees.

“The faculty of the Division of Biomedical Sciences have, for more than 30 years, participated in the education of the brightest and most dedicated medical students in the state of California and the country,” said Craig Byus, dean of the program. “During this time, the faculty have directed important basic research designed to understand the mechanism of disease processes. Along with our dedicated staff, we welcome the challenges ahead to establish the first four-year medical school in state in more than 40 years for the benefit of those who live in the Inland Empire.”

As proposed, the medical school will open in fall 2012. Enrollment will ramp up gradually to a total of 400 medical students, 160 residents and 160 graduate students.

The curriculum, adopted last month at a regular meeting of the Academic Senate, is comprised of the first two years of medical school currently offered by the biomedical sciences program and an innovative clinical education model for the last two years of medical school.

Years 1 and 2 present an integrated approach to human biology and disease processes, as well as clinical skills instruction beginning the very first week. It emphasizes problem-based learning with cases explored in small groups, labs and independent study. This portion curriculum is currently taught by UCR professors and a team of approximately 80 clinical faculty who are community physicians and practitioners.

The clinical years — Years 3 and 4 — will include continuity-of-care experiences in which students are paired with primary care physicians in order to follow patients over time, as well as clinical experiences with specialists, community service projects and medical academies for students and faculty with complementary interests. Students will have experiences in both medical center settings and community-based healthcare settings.

In addition to the M.D. degree program, a residency program is planned for launch in summer 2012. It will offer the required training for postgraduate medical students to achieve board certification and medical licensure.

The research of the medical school will focus on the medical and health needs of residents in the Inland Southern California region, such as cardiovascular diseases, insulin-resistant diabetes and metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases and emerging infectious diseases.

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The University of California, Riverside (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 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.

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