ABC’s of your Health: Medical education programs in the Valley received funding to support medical residency

María Molina leans about air management with help from Dr. Anthony Lim during the Sept. 22 Reaching Out to Aspiring Doctors (ROAD) conference at the UCSF Fresno Center.
María Molina leans about air management with help from Dr. Anthony Lim during the Sept. 22 Reaching Out to Aspiring Doctors (ROAD) conference at the UCSF Fresno Center.

Several medical education programs in the San Joaquín Valley – including UCSF Fresno, Adventist Health Hanford, Clinica Sierra Vista, Merced Family Medicine, Saint Agnes Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Medical Center, UC Davis, Valley Children’s and Valley Family – received funding to support medical resident education in the region.

Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) awarded more than $12 million to programs in the Valley, one of the areas in the state with the greatest need for physicians.

Seventy-three programs across the state received $38 million in grants to expand residency programs in hospitals, medical centers and community clinics to offer residencies to recent medical school graduates in both urban and rural areas. Programs that focus on medically underserved areas and populations were given priority.

The funding in new state tobacco tax revenues has been awarded to graduate medical education (GME) programs across the state to fund 156 slots for physician residencies. The first “CalMedForce” grants will help address the state’s physician shortage, particularly in underserved communities where patients often lack access to timely and quality health care.

“These CalMedForce grants will help California grow and strengthen the physician pipeline to meet the demands of our state’s growing and changing patient population,” said Lupe Alonzo-Díaz, MPAff, PHC president and CEO. “This investment will improve access to care and increase timely access to a physician for patients in underserved communities.”

Under California state law, a physician must complete a minimum of three years of supervised residency before practicing independently. A shortage of available residency slots has contributed to a bottleneck of medical student graduates and exacerbated the state’s physician shortage.

The organization said the $38 million serves as a down payment on increasing graduate medical education. The PHC received 131 applications from eligible residency programs, totaling $147 million in funding requests.

“The demand for these funds is a clear indicator of the statewide need for this funding and an example of how the new tobacco tax will help improve access to care in California,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D, Associate Vice President for Health Sciences in the UC Office of the President. “This is an important step in providing better access to care by training more California physicians for future careers in areas of unmet need. We look forward to announcing future grants in years to come.”

UCSF Fresno will receive $3.375 million in one-time funding over four years.

“Receiving these grants as part of a competitive application process is truly gratifying and represents an important step forward in the Valley,” said Michael W. Peterson, MD, associate dean at UCSF Fresno. “Thank you to Physicians for Healthy California. To begin to address the health care needs of our region’s growing, aging and diverse population, many more physicians are needed and to do that, ongoing support for infrastructure in resident education is critical.”

Established by UCSF as a regional graduate medical education campus in 1975 and recently designated as a branch campus of the UCSF School of Medicine, UCSF Fresno trains about 300 physicians annually. Each year, approximately 100 complete residency and fellowship training at UCSF Fresno. About 50 percent of UCSF Fresno-trained physicians remain in the region to care for community members.

The San Joaquin Valley has fewer licensed physicians practicing in the region than other parts of the state and California as a whole. There are 133 active physicians (excluding medical residents) per 100,000 population compared with the state rate of 222 active physicians per 100,000 population, according to a Healthforce Center at UCSF report. The situation will only worsen in the coming years. Thirty percent of physicians in the Valley are over the age of 60 and are expected to retire within the next decade. The California Future Health Workforce Commission estimates the state will face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care physicians by 2030.

Beside UCSF Fresno, GME Grant Recipients includes:

▪ Adventist Health Hanford Family Medicine Residency Program (Family medicine) in Hanford with $$225,000 grant;

▪ Clínica Sierra Vista - Bakersfield Program; a.k.a. Rio Bravo Family Medicine Residency Program (Family medicine) in Bakersfield with $450,000 grant;

▪ Merced Family Medicine Residency Program (Family medicine) in Merced with $225,000 grant;

▪ Saint Agnes Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program (Family medicine) in Fresno with $450,000 grant;

▪ Saint Agnes Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program (Internal medicine) in Fresno with $1,225,000;

▪ St. Joseph’s Medical Center Emergency Medicine Program (Emergency medicine) in Stockton with $675,000 grant;

▪ St. Joseph’s Medical Center Family Medicine Program (Family medicine) in Stockton with $900,000 grant;

▪ UC Davis Internal Medicine Residency (Internal medicine) in Sacramento with $225,000 grant;

▪ Valley Chilren’s Pediatric Residency Program (Pediatrics) in Madera with $1,295,000;

▪ Valley Family Medicine Residency of Modesto (Family medicine) in Modesto with $225,000 grant; and

▪ Valley Health Team Family Medicine Residency Program (Family medicine) in San Joaquín with $675,000 grant.

Funding for this new GME program comes from Proposition 56, the $2-per-pack tax on tobacco products approved by California voters in 2016. The tax generates about $1 billion a year and is intended for the purposes of increasing access to health care and supporting crucial health care programs, including a $40 million graduate medical education (GME) fund to sustain, retain and expand GME programs.

The goal of the fund is to increase the number of primary care and emergency physicians in California. The fund is administered by PHC, the foundation for the California Medical Association.

Graduate medical education refers to the hospital and clinic-based training of medical school graduates under faculty supervision prior to practicing independently. Residency training typically lasts three to five years, depending on the specialty. Fellowships are advanced training in a subspecialty beyond residency.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud