School Program Takes Aim at Health Care Worker Shortage
A $75,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente has helped expand a high school program in the South Valley that seeks to encourage minority students to pursue medical careers and help reduce a shortage of health care workers in California, the Fresno Bee reports.
The Doctors Academy began in 1999 at Sunnyside High School in Fresno and recently expanded to two more high schools with help from the Kaiser startup grant.
Mark Babiarz, a principal at one of the schools, said the academy is geared toward "students who can succeed in college but have [socioeconomic] barriers to overcome."
Students in the program take accelerated classes, make visits to colleges and participate in job-shadowing internships during the summer.
Katherine Flores -- director of the UC-San Francisco Latino Center for Medical Education and Research, which sponsors the program -- said that one of the academy's goals is to reduce the physician shortage in California, especially in rural areas.
Flores noted that less than 5% of physicians, nurses and dentists in California are Hispanic.
Susan Ryan, area manager for Kaiser Permanente's Fresno service area, said the startup grant is a continuing commitment by the HMO "to assure an appropriate pipeline of people into the health care field."
The grant will pay for staff, trips, summer programs, tutors and other activities.
Flores said, "We're hopeful down the road to spawn other Doctors Academies around the (South) Valley" (Jimenez, Fresno Bee, 9/5).