NEWS | June 14, 2013

AMA awards $1 million to UC Davis-Kaiser Permanente partnership for innovative primary care training

Health leaders unite to address medical workforce and patient-care needs


UC Davis School of Medicine in partnership with Kaiser Permanente has received a $1 million grant from the American Medical Association (AMA) for an innovative education program designed for an elite group of medical students committed to careers in primary care.

Mark Henderson Mark Henderson

Unlike conventional four-year medical programs, the Davis Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care (ACE-PC) program lasts three years and includes training and education during summer. Students are immediately immersed in clinical experiences at Kaiser Permanente, gaining valuable exposure to the health system’s patient-centered medical home model of clinical practice. They also learn patient-focused communication, population health, chronic disease management, quality improvement, team-based care and preventive health, emphasizing providing care to diverse and underserved patients.

The first ACE-PC students will begin their studies at UC Davis in 2014.

“Students will be selected for their outstanding academic records as well as their superb communication and teamwork abilities as assessed during the novel multiple mini-interview process UC Davis employs in selecting medical school students,” said Mark Henderson, UC Davis associate dean for admissions and co-principal investigator for the grant. “These skills are critical for primary care practice and are often underemphasized in the traditional medical school admissions process.”

Upon admission to the program, ACE-PC students will be simultaneously interviewed for acceptance into a Kaiser Permanente or UC Davis primary care residency program. Following their three years of medical school, students will transition to their residencies without participating in the national “match” process.

Tonya Fancher © UC Regents
Tonya Fancher

“ACE-PC is an intensive, integrated, current approach to education for a subset of highly motivated students who know what medical specialty they want to pursue,” said Tonya Fancher, UC Davis associate professor of internal medicine and principal investigator for the grant. “The need for generalists is greater today than ever before and is expected to grow as health-care reform is implemented. We applaud the AMA for being a catalyst in addressing this critical need.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to have a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians by the end of the decade. In California, the deficit is expected to be pronounced due to current shortages of primary care physicians in most of its counties, the nation’s largest percentage of practicing primary care physicians nearing retirement, and more rural, inner urban and fast-growing communities than other states.

The ACE-PC program is funded through the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, which is providing each of 11 U.S. medical schools with $1 million, five-year grants to test models of education that reshape the way physicians are trained in order to improve health care. More than 80 percent — or 119 — of U.S. medical schools initially applied for funding through the initiative.

“We are thrilled to award funding to 11 medical schools for their bold, transformative proposals designed to close the gaps between how medical students are trained and how health care is delivered,” said AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus. “This AMA initiative will identify specific changes in medical education that can be applied in medical schools throughout the nation to enable students to thrive in a changing health-care environment and improve the health of our nation’s patients.”

UC Davis has a long history of training primary care physicians, and interest in primary care is increasing among its medical school graduates. Nearly half of the most recent graduating class chose residencies in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, the largest percentage since 2002. The grant team anticipates that the shorter duration of training and lower financial burden for ACE-PC students will further bolster interest in primary care careers.

“Primary care is the backbone of the integrated health-care delivery system,” said Bruce Blumberg, director of graduate medical education for Northern California Kaiser Permanente. “By partnering with UC Davis, a medical school with a long history of emphasis on primary care, Kaiser Permanente hopes to imprint ACE-PC graduates with our tradition of excellence in the provision of integrated, technologically enabled, evidence-driven care to individuals and to our population.”

Medical students
Beginning in 2014, the three-year Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care program will immediately immerse medical students in clinical experiences and provide valuable exposure to the patient-centered medical home model of care.

Blumberg pointed out that with the coming of the Affordable Care Act, the first needs of the previously uninsured and underinsured will likely be primary care services. A requirement of the Act will be the formation of Accountable Care Organizations, evolved medical care systems that will be similar to the Kaiser Permanente model. The ACE-PC program therefore will create a physician workforce equipped with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for the 21st century practice of medicine.

Another critical component of the AMA initiative is a learning consortium that will help the funded schools rapidly share best practices nationwide.

“We are hoping the ACE-PC will be a model that can be implemented throughout the U.S., and that it will be used to help reduce additional workforce gaps,” said Fancher. “At UC Davis, we want to expand the program to include training in other specialties such as psychiatry, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology.”

UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary care programs. The school offers fully accredited master’s degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to advancing health in rural California and urban, underserved communities. For more information, visit the UC Davis School of Medicine website.

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care and is recognized as one of America’s leading health-care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health-care services and to improve the health of its members and the communities it serves. The organization currently serves more than 9.1 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers, who are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to the Kaiser Permanente Newscenter.