California’s investment in educating and training more healthcare workers for underserved communities will put millions of dollars in the Central Valley to develop career pathways through pipeline programs, paid summer internships for undergraduates, and one-year post-undergraduate fellowships.
The California Department of Health Care Access and Information recently awarded Fresno State a $2.9 million over five years for pipeline programs and undergraduate internships, and $1.98 million to the California Area Health Education Center, which is managed by UCSF Fresno, for pipeline programs, summer internships, and fellowships.
The California Area Health Education Center was established in 1972 to recruit, train, and retain healthcare professionals in underserved communities statewide. Its five-year proposal focused on developing high school to post-baccalaureate pathway programs and education, including developing summer undergraduate internships at outpatient clinical sites.
“We are incredibly happy to have received this funding in support of HCAI’s statewide goals and local aspirations to increase and diversify our healthcare workforce,” Dr. Ivan Gomez, chief of the UCSF Fresno Department of Family and Community Medicine, said in a news release. “This is an acknowledgment of AHEC’s 50-year successful track record and an opportunity to expand and extend our work.”
State Grants Totaled $40.8M
Altogether, the California Department of Health Care Access and Information awarded $40.8 million to 20 organizations that support students from underrepresented regions and backgrounds to pursue healthcare careers, primarily in the fields of primary care, behavioral health, geriatrics, nursing, and oral and allied health.
Fresno State’s grant will be issued through the Health Professionals Pathways Program. Lilia DeLaCerda, the principal investigator on the project and director of the Health Careers Opportunity Program at Fresno State, said in a news release that because health professionals are more likely to practice where they grow up or graduate, helping more Fresno State graduates with successful admission to professional programs “is our best available strategy to address healthcare shortages in the Central Valley.”
Fresno State’s Health Professions Pathways Program will be housed with the campus Health Careers Opportunity Program and will support underrepresented and/or disadvantaged high-school and college-level students from the San Joaquin Valley who want to become primary care physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, optometrists, and other health care providers in their communities.
New internships and additional programs will be established at high schools and community colleges, along with activities such as peer mentoring, test prep, internships, academic advising, and health conferences to aid Fresno State students in becoming successful applicants to health professional schools.