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L.A. Care Health Plan Commits $5 Million to a New Medical Degree Program at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Monday, June 21, 2021
CDU Photo - Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Dr. David M. Carlisle, Dr. Richard Seidman

Los Angeles – L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, is proud to announce it is committing $5 million to support a new medical school in South Los Angeles, which is being launched by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU). CDU is creating a new, independent medical education program on its campus that will be dedicated to serving under-resourced communities. L.A. Care’s commitment is part of its Elevating the Safety Net initiative.

We launched Elevating the Safety Net in 2018 to help address a severe physician shortage and the resulting health disparities in the underserved communities that we serve,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “COVID-19 put a spotlight on the disparities, and illustrated the critical need for doctors who understand these communities. We hope the CDU students will recognize how much they are truly needed and will elect to serve in an under-resourced community when their medical training is complete.”

CDU, which opened in the wake of the 1965 Watts Revolt, has had a 40-year partnership with the University of California Los Angeles to train 28 medical students each year. But much more is needed. The new medical school program will train an additional 60 medical students each year. The students will be recruited with an emphasis on their interest in alleviating health care disparities by understanding the needs in under-resourced communities. This approach was designed to encourage them to practice in the communities where they trained.

“CDU remains the only health professions institution in a service planning area with 1.35 million residents. The forthcoming medical school at CDU is a clear marker of progression in our institution’s 55-year journey, and will serve as a significant step towards improving health outcomes for the residents of South Los Angeles,” said David M. Carlisle, MD, PhD, CDU President and CEO.  “We are grateful for the support from L.A. Care as we solidify the legacy of CDU, an institution that stands as a beacon of hope in one of the most densely populated and under-resourced urban areas in the nation.

The new medical education program will address the need for diverse healthcare professionals to help address health disparities. CDU, which has a history of graduating racially diverse students, estimates the new school will increase the number of Black medical graduates in the State of California by approximately 30 percent and Latinx medical students by roughly 20 percent after graduating its first class of 60 medical students in 2027.

L.A. Care’s financial commitment will be used to:

  • Develop a community health pre-matriculation training experience focused on professionalism and wellness activities for medical students
  • Enhance the current Simulation Center to offer medical training activities for students and faculty
  • Establish a service learning program for medical students to offer certifications as emergency medical technicians, community health workers, and patient navigators
  • Establish a center for faculty development to focus on the recruitment, retention, and development of faculty

The new CDU independent medical education program will welcome its first medical students in 2023. 

This new grant is a continuation of L.A. Care’s partnership with CDU through the Elevating the Safety Net initiative. With more than $8.4 million in funding from our initiative, CDU has awarded full scholarships to 16 medical students and has funded residents and faculty salaries while expanding its Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency Programs.

The new grant aligns with L.A. Care’s commitment to advancing health equity for our members and their communities.


About Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, non-profit student centered minority-serving medical and health sciences university that is committed to cultivating diverse health professional leaders who are dedicated to social justice and health equity for underserved populations through outstanding education, research, clinical service, and community engagement.

Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated, since its inception, more than 600 physicians, 1,225 physician assistants and over a thousand other health professionals, as well as training over 2,700 physician specialists through its sponsored residency programs. Its School of Nursing has graduation over 1,300 nursing professionals, including over 950 family nurse practitioners. CDU is a leader in health disparities research with a focus on education, training, treatment and care in cancer, diabetes, cardiometabolic and HIV/AIDS.




About L.A. Care Health Plan

L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.4 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County's low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


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