Six medical students on speedier pathway to becoming primary care physicians
Medical school started early and quickly for six brand new first-year students. The School of Medicine, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, recently welcomed its first group of students into the Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care (ACE-PC) program.
ACE-PC is UC Davis’ rigorous three-year pathway for medical students who are committed to becoming primary care physicians. Rather than the classic seven-year plan to a primary care practice (four years of medical school followed by three years of residency training), ACE-PC students continue their training and education during summers and can enter primary care practice a year earlier than traditional students.
Stethoscopes and white coats in hand, the students hit the ground running last week after an orientation with UC Davis’ Associate Dean of Admissions Mark Henderson and Roderick Vitangcol, Kaiser’s assistant physician-in-chief for North Sacramento Hospital Operations.
Following the welcome and introductions, the students had their first written exam. Within days, they began visiting Kaiser facilities and getting immersed in a curriculum and learning environment designed to seamlessly integrate medical education and clinical practice.
“ACE-PC is definitely an intensive approach to medical education and physician training,” said program director Tonya Fancher, a UC Davis associate professor of internal medicine and principal investigator for the American Medical Association grant that helped launch the new program. “But the need for more primary care physicians is so crucial that being able to provide a speedier pathway for highly motivated students makes a lot of sense.”
ACE-PC incorporates a curriculum that includes population management, chronic disease management, quality improvement, patient safety, team-based care and preventive health skills, all with a special emphasis on diverse and underserved populations. The inaugural cohort of students comes from variety of backgrounds. One was a medical assistant, while another worked as a grassroots activist and health policy advocate. The group also includes a community health educator with the Peace Corps, and a student who worked with medically underserved Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
To be considered for admissions into the ACE-PC program, students must first be accepted into the School of Medicine’s four-year M.D. program. Following their accelerated three years of medical school, students will transition to medical residencies at UC Davis or Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
“With health-care reform and more people having coverage, the need for additional physicians is greater than ever before,” added Fancher. “Medical schools simply have to produce more generalists, and our ACE-PC program is a great way to increase that vital part of the health-care workforce.”