UC Davis received a $1.8 million grant to create a strong pre-med track for rural college students. This is the university’s latest initiative to increase the number of primary care physicians in underserved areas of Northern California.
The new pathway, known as Avenue M (the M is for medicine), will identify community college students interested in studying health sciences. Staff will provide academic support, ensure the smooth transfer of students to one of three participating four-year colleges, and then direct them to UC Davis School of Medicine.
Avenue M is the newest trail developed by U.C. Davis in response to the shortage of primary care physicians in rural and medically underserved areas of California, most of which face health disparities.
“The new Avenue M program is essential for students who have the aptitude and desire to enter medical fields but may not have believed that success was within their reach,” said UC Davis Provost. . Mary S. Croughan. “Like its predecessors Avenue E and Avenue B, which focus on engineering and the biological sciences respectively, Avenue M will help us better fulfill our commitment to serve students of all backgrounds as well as our region as a whole.
The three-year scholarship has been assigned by state law to the Foundation for California Community Colleges under her California medicine effort, a coalition of education leaders, medical providers, elected officials, and others committed to producing a diverse medical workforce to advance health equity.
The foundation has extended the award to UC Davis and three other institutions that will work with partner community colleges to establish healthcare opportunity centers: UC Riverside, UCSF-Fresno and UC San Diego.
Avenue M is part of a collaboration with the School of Medicine, the UC Davis STEM Strategies band, Sacramento State University, Cal Poly Humboldt and Kaiser Permanente Northern California. It also includes other medical and health organizations serving to create an ecosystem of more than 20 community colleges in 14 California counties that feed into universities.
The initiative’s community college districts are Los Rios, Sierra, Solano, Yuba, Redwoods, Siskiyou, Mendocino, California Tribal College, and Shasta-Tehama-Trinity.
The new Avenue M program is essential for students who have the aptitude and desire to enter medical fields, but who may not have believed that success was within their reach.
Seeking students from rural and medically underserved areas
The initiative is based on the same model as the engineering and biology programs, but emphasizes recruiting students from certain underserved areas, such as rural Northern California. The hope is that they will return to these areas to serve as primary care physicians.
There is ample evidence to show that an effective way to produce physicians to practice in rural and medically underserved areas is to recruit and train students who have deep ties to these communities or completed residency there.
The School of Medicine’s Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce has conducted key research on the critical role of community colleges in the educational pathways of primary care physicians. A recent national study of family medicine, arguably the backbone of the primary care workforce, found that 51% of Latino trainees and 33% of Black or African American residency trainees attend community college. .
The School of Medicine has launched many initiatives over the past 15 years to improve the health of California’s diverse population, especially in areas where there is a shortage of physicians.
His Community Health Scholars (CHS) backgrounds include:
- ACE-PC, a three-year accelerated medical track for primary care
- REACH, which connects students to clinical care in the Central Valley
- TEACH-MS, for students who want to practice in underserved urban settings
- RURAL-PRIME, which provides training in rural areas
- COMPADERa collaboration that places students and residents in rural communities between Sacramento and Portland
- Tribal Health PRIME, for students dedicated to caring for Native American and Alaska Native communities.
Additionally, the medical school was among the first in the nation to adopt holistic admissions practices that prioritize multiple factors beyond a student’s test scores, including their journey to and through medical school. ‘university.
“UC Davis School of Medicine is a nationally recognized leader in training the next generation of diverse physicians who will help solve California’s health challenges,” said UC acting dean Susan Murin. Davis School of Medicine. “The Avenue M collaboration is an exciting new way to partner to advance health equity and dramatically improve the health of diverse communities statewide.”
Avenue M will likely improve student diversity
CHS pathways and holistic admissions have also significantly increased the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine. In fact, the School of Medicine was recently ranked #3 in diversity for medical schools nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” list.
UC Davis is a perfect fit for Avenue M because of its extensive experience in partnering with community colleges, said Beth BroomeSenior Provost Advisor and Head of STEM Strategies at UC Davis.
The Broome office was instrumental in establishing the university Avenue B and Ave E Pathways, which help educate high-ability, low-resource, and first-generation students by providing the support they need to succeed in the College of Biological Sciences and College of Engineering at UC Davis.
“The Avenue model is designed to provide a seamless transition to and through college, focusing on academic and wraparound supports, leading to increased belonging and amplifying post-enrollment success,” Broome said. “Avenue B and E’s successful models are the foundation we will use to expand our reach in the School of Professional Medicine.”
UC Davis also has a long track record of opening its doors to community college students – 21% of students admitted in the fall 2021 term were transfer students. Additionally, 42% of UC Davis undergraduates are first-generation students, meaning they grew up in households without a parent or guardian who had completed a four-year college degree.
Students from these backgrounds are more likely to be primary care physicians, according to UC Davis medical school leaders.
Avenue M will soon be hiring staff and beginning outreach to community colleges from Sacramento to the Oregon border. Its employees, who will work under UC Davis Health, are responsible for outreach to high schools, educational counselors, community colleges and partners in the health care sector.
The first cohort of 50 students is expected to join Avenue M in January 2023 and transfer to UC Davis, Sacramento State or Cal Poly Humboldt within two years of enrollment, a much faster timeline than the average community college student .
Each year, another 50 students will join the initiative.
Supporting students is essential to their success
Students will receive financial support as well as access to mentors, networking opportunities, and academic resources, including tutoring if needed. Once at four-year college, they will continue to receive support, including consistent counseling and weekly cohort meetings, focused tutoring, comprehensive services designed to amplify success, and test-prep skills. admission to medical school.
By strengthening relationships between the education, clinical, and research sectors, Avenue M disrupts mainstream culture and lowers barriers to entry into medical and healthcare careers.
Students will also have the opportunity to shadow medical professionals at Kaiser Permanente, Northern California’s largest provider of primary care medicine.
“Creating and diversifying the healthcare workforce is a common goal we share with UC Davis,” said Roderick Vitangcol, chief medical officer, Kaiser Permanente Sacramento. “Avenue M will provide new opportunities and experiences for students from backgrounds currently underrepresented in health care, and help Northern California health care providers meet the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. »
If scholars decide they no longer wish to pursue medical school, Avenue M will provide exit ramps to other allied health careers, ensuring successful career trajectories for all cohort members while increasing the workforce. regional work of the health professions.
One of Avenue M’s strengths is how it will strengthen the recruitment, retention, well-being, and advancement of diverse STEM talent from underrepresented and historically excluded backgrounds throughout Northern California. , said Charlene GreenDirector of Outreach, Recruitment and Retention for the School of Medicine.
“By strengthening relationships between the education, clinical and research sectors, Avenue M disrupts the mainstream culture and lowers barriers to entry into medical and healthcare careers,” added Green, Principal Investigator of the grant.
The co-principal investigator is Tonya Fancher, associate dean for workforce innovation and education quality and director of the Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce at UC Davis.
Students interested in Avenue M can contact UC Davis STEM Strategies: [email protected]