California opens first new medical school in 40 years

California's Inland Empire—the area located east of metropolitan Los Angeles—has suffered from a shortage of doctors for some time. According to a 2009 report from the California HealthCare Foundation, Riverside County had 99 doctors per 100,000 people. Statewide, the average ratio at the time was 174 doctors per 100,000 people.

Regular readers of this blog know the problems associated with too few doctors. Patients are forced to wait longer for care and receive less of it. Doctors must work long hours to meet demand and often see their performance suffer as a result.

Riverside's solution was to fund a new medical school that would train the next generation of physicians—California's first new medical school in 40 years. According to an article on the California Report, the school will receive $15 million in annual funding from the state, thanks to a bill written by Democratic state Assemblyman Jose Medina.

"I think that we're going to see doctors produced that will stay in the community, who know this community, who understand the culture of the area," Medina told the news source. "[They] will fill a need that has been very obvious to many people."

Fifty students began their studies this week, and one area of focus will be on disease prevention and working closely with patients.

"Patients want doctors who will listen, patients want doctors that care about what's wrong with them, and admit when they don't know things, and work together to bring them better health," said G. Richard Olds, the school's dean.

This may be easier if the school's graduates are able to work with medical scribes when they begin establishing their own practices. After all, it will be some time before the ratio of doctors and patients can be controlled, and until then, doctors will need help if they are to take the time to give patients the individual attention that they need.

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