California Launches Medicine Scholars Program to Help Diversify the State’s Primary Care Physician Workforce

California Launches Medicine Scholars Program to Help Diversify the State’s Primary Care Physician Workforce

Four Regional Hubs of Healthcare Opportunity have been awarded funds to build pathways for community college students into the medical field in rural and underserved communities.

SACRAMENTO, CA—June 28, 2022—  Today marks the official launch of the California Medicine Scholars Program (CMSP) thanks to funding from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information and its commitment to strengthening California community college to medical school pathway. As its first established action, CMSP, housed at the Foundation for California Community Colleges, awarded funds to four recipients to establish Regional Hubs of Healthcare Opportunity (RHHOs), which will bridge gaps between community colleges, four-year universities, medical schools, and community-based health clinics and organizations to provide greater pre-med opportunities for students and help diversify California’s primary care physician workforce. 

The four awards have been made to UC Davis School of Medicine, UC Riverside School of Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine, and UCSF Fresno, which reside in regions underserved in healthcare and are currently experiencing a physician shortage. Each grantee will receive $540,000 annually over three years to lead the creation of RHHOs and provide a strategy to increase the number of underrepresented minority physicians and ultimately reduce disparities in health and health outcomes across the state. As success is proven, an additional $250,000 in bridge funding will be available to the RHHOs for the fiscal year 2025-2026 to ensure program sustainability.

“There is no greater opportunity than to be given the privilege to serve others as a physician,” said Dr. Coyness Ennix, Chair of the California Medicine Coalition Advisory Board. “The California Medicine Scholars Program will provide that opportunity to students who would otherwise never have it. The health of every California community will benefit as a result.”

The launch of the CMSP is the result of several years of advocacy and program development from the California Medicine Coalition Advisory Board and partners representing California community colleges, community health centers,  healthcare workforce advocates, public and private universities and schools of medicine, and funders. 

The CMSP received $10.5 million in funding from the Governor’s 2021 Budget, awarded through the California Department of Health Care Access and Information to launch the four RHHOs. Senator Melissa Hurtado (District 14) sponsored the budget request that resulted in the $10.5 million allocation to the California Medicine Scholars Program. Additionally, $5.2 million philanthropic support for the CMSP came from The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, and The California Healthcare Foundation to further support RHHO capacity building, strategic planning, and data collection and analysis, in addition to student support. 

The expansion and diversification of the physician workforce will provide stronger pre-med pathways for community college students and greatly increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care for underserved  communities. Student participants will benefit from a support system that includes priority enrollment, enhanced curriculum, tailored advising, guidance and encouragement to utilize current transfer pathways, medical school and clinical partnerships, among other support and mentoring services. 

To learn more about how California aims to reduce health disparities for communities of color and the critical role RHHOs play in helping to successfully meet California’s growing population demands, please visit california-medicine.org.

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About the California Medicine Coalition
The California Medicine Coalition, which is fiscally sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, works to reduce health disparities for communities of color in California by increasing the diversity of primary care physicians who are trained and ultimately practice in the state. For more information, visit www.california-medicine.org.

About the Foundation for California Community Colleges
The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official nonprofit foundation to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office. The Foundation's mission is to benefit, support, and enhance the missions of the California Community Colleges system, the largest higher education system in the nation. Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works to benefit all California Community College students, colleges, college foundations, and the system as a whole by accelerating paths to economic and social mobility, strengthening communities, and reducing barriers to opportunities for all Californians. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.foundationccc.org

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