Source: The Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science | Written by: Elia Esparza
LOS ANGELES, June 19, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) — A joint medical education program between Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) was named “Best Performer” in a comprehensive report recently issued by The Greenlining Institute examining racial and ethnic diversity within University of California medical schools.
In citing the Charles Drew / UCLA medical education program, the report said it was ” … unique among its peer institutions in that its mission statement specifically mentions that a goal of the school is to improve health outcomes for underserved populations, which it does through its innovative program that combines general medical education with hands-on training in underserved inner-city communities in Los Angeles.”
The report further noted, “The marked minority presence among the teaching staff and leadership of the school, as well as its location in South Los Angeles and its commitment to serving the underserved, all contribute to making (CDU/UCLA) the most minority-oriented of the UC medical school programs, and the only one in California expressly dedicated to closing the minority health gap.”
Dr. Susan Kelly, President and CEO of Charles Drew University, stated, “It’s affirming to have received this recognition for our proven commitment to the mission at CDU, as we have focused on bringing diversity to the health care professions and eliminating disparities from day one. But more important is that the Greenlining study recognizes the need for many more physicians and researchers of color who can make a sustained difference in helping underserved communities.”
The purpose of the study, part of the Representing the New Majority series, was to examine the effectiveness of the UC medical schools in recruiting, retaining, and preparing a physician workforce that better represents the diverse populations of California. The Institute’s report notes that “without a diverse and culturally competent healthcare workforce, access to quality health care will continue to decrease for all, but especially for those who need it the most.”
Added Dr. Richard S. Baker, Dean of CDU’s College of Medicine: “We are extremely proud of CDU’s record of being on the forefront of increasing diversity as well as emphasizing quality in medical education.”
The Greenlining report states that greater diversity in health care is needed for several key reasons, namely: 1) the need for more linguistic and cultural competence in an increasingly diverse state; 2) the proportionately greater need for health services among the state’s minority populations; and 3) minority health practitioners’ strong record of practicing in medically underserved areas and in serving underserved populations.
“There is growing consensus … that diversity — in terms of students, faculty and academic treatment of health disparities among races — is an integral and inseparable component of complete medical education, and that physicians not trained in cultural competency, intercultural communication, and racial/ethnic differences in health outcomes cannot fully serve in an increasingly diverse population,” the study found.
Among the report’s findings was that, while underrepresented minorities (URM) comprised 44% of California’s population, this group made up only 17.8% of first year medical students in 2007 across eight UC programs. Moreover, the proportion of URMs in the State population is growing at twice the rate of the proportion of URMs in the UC medical student body. The defined URM group was Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American.
The Greenlining Institute is a multi-ethnic advocacy, research, leadership development, and public policy organization whose ultimate goal is to increase the role that low-income and minority Californians play in the civic arena in order to create equitable policies and improve quality of life for all communities.
Charles Drew University is the only academic health sciences center in an area of 1.6 million people — the largest urban underserved area in the United States. The university is also the nation’s only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School. It was formally created from the ashes of the Watts Rebellion in 1965. Since 1971, Charles Drew University has graduated over 500 medical doctors, 2,500 specialist physicians, 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other, mainly minority, health professionals. Research shows that the vast majority of these professionals are still serving the people in greatest need a decade or more after graduation.