Many of you have heard me speak about my goals and vision for the campus (available at www.chancellor.ucr.edu/goals.html). UCR has embarked on an exciting new initiative that will advance our efforts toward each of these goals. In response to a March 2005 report to the Regents on California’s health care and medical education needs, we launched a Health Sciences Initiative (HSI) with three primary components: 1) A Health Sciences Research Institute (HSRI), which will include biomedicine and health-related sciences, as well as the psychology, delivery and management of health and health care policy; 2) A Center for Medical education, providing opportunities for third- and fourth-year students to serve rotations as well as medical residencies; and 3) A School of Medicine, focusing on serving the medically underserved in the large and growing inland Southern California.
The 2005 report to the Regents specified that any new medical program should be located in regions that are medically underserved. Currently, the Inland Empire has the state’s lowest number of physicians per 100,000, with a projected shortfall of 1,140 physicians by 2015. Studies show that 70 percent of physicians stay in the area where they performed their residencies, and that those who come from underserved areas tend to return there to practice. By offering rotations and residencies in the near term and, ultimately, a full-fledged school of medicine, UCR can help to address this critical need. Furthermore, our diverse undergraduate student population — ranked third in the nation in diversity among public doctoral universities — provides a valuable pipeline to attract more underrepresented minorities to medicine. This is a critical need, as only 6 percent of California’s physicians are Hispanic and 4 percent are African-American.
UCR recognizes the health care needs of our state and region and has been planning for more than two years. We are building on a considerable base of assets, including the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Biomedical Sciences Program, which provides the first two years of medical school here at UCR and the following two at UCLA. In addition, we have more than 100 faculty members conducting research in health-related fields, with about 35 new faculty positions committed by 2010. If successful, a new UCR School of Medicine would be the first in the western United States in the 21st century.
This is a tremendous opportunity for UCR to take the lead in serving the medically underserved; increasing the number of physicians; training a highly skilled workforce, including underrepresented groups, for health-related careers; and partnering with community medical centers, hospitals and schools. We can help boost the economy of the entire region while addressing diseases that particularly afflict the area’s population, helping the transition to a knowledge-based economy, and attracting or encouraging high-tech start-up companies. As our plans unfold, you will be hearing much more about this historic endeavor.
Chancellor France A. Córdova