CLAREMONT, Calif. — The Claremont Colleges plans to open a medical school, the fourth new campus designed to produce physicians for parts of Southern California struggling with shortages.
The Keck Graduate Institute School of Medicine will focus on primary care and treating the growing Latino population in California, institute officials announced this week. The school hopes to hire its founding dean by next summer, and open a few years after that.
Administrators hope many of the graduates will stay to practice medicine in eastern Los Angeles County or the Inland Empire, an ethnically diverse region that encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties and is home to about 4 million people.
“Our goal is to recruit them from here, train them here and keep them here,” said Sheldon Schuster, president of the Keck Graduate Institute. The institute is part of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate institutions about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The institute already has a pharmacy school.
“There is such an incredible demand for people who … understand the community and who speak the language,” Schuster said.
Only about 5 percent of physicians in California are Latino, though Latinos make up about 38 percent of the population, according to a recent report by University of California researchers and funded by the California Health Care Foundation.
The campus joins a wave of new medical schools across the nation that began opening in the early 2000s. “There has been a huge increase in the last 15 years,” said Atul Grover, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Historically, however, California had not been part of that wave. Now, he said, “the state has been trying to play catch-up.”
Kaiser Permanente’s medical school in Pasadena is under construction and expected to welcome its first class next year. (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
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