Three Initiatives Look to the Future

Three Initiatives Look to the Future
Ready: Graduates march at a recent commencement ceremony at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Willowbrook.

(This article has been revised.)

In recent weeks, three separate initiatives have been announced by local health care companies and institutions aimed at boosting education and training of future health care professionals.

Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, a private, historically Black medical university in Willowbrook, has announced it is receiving $7.5 million from Sacramento-based Sutter Health to fund a scholarship program for training of physicians.

In a similar vein, Sawtelle-based radiology giant RadNet Inc. announced it is partnering with JVS SoCal to create a local training program for workers in the radiology imaging industry.

And local hospital giant Cedars-Sinai Health System, based in Beverly Grove, has announced the creation of a new position – Dean of Medical Education – with its first hire, Laurence Katznelson, starting May 1.

Charles Drew scholarship program

The new program at Charles Drew University announced March 6 will be one of the biggest such programs at the largest historically Black medical college west of Texas.

The university last year opened its new nationally-accredited medical school – one of only four historically black medical schools in the nation.

Much of the initial $7.5 million investment from Sutter Health will fund five full-tuition scholarships per academic year for the next five years, for a total of 25 students, with the possibility of continuing and expanding the program in the years beyond that.

The aim is to address California’s growing physician shortage and persistent health care inequities throughout the state. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, as of 2022, there were only enough primary care physicians to address the needs of about half of the state’s residents. A separate report from Let’s Get Healthy California cited a range of forecasts indicating the state will need between 4,000 and 5,000 additional primary care physicians to meet this demand by the end of this decade.

Training future radiologists

RadNet, which operates more than 660 radiology screening centers nationwide, announced late last month that it is forming a new program, called ImagingWorks, in partnership with JVS SoCal (formally known as Jewish Vocational Service of Southern California), a workforce development and social service agency. 

The aim of this program is to train people for careers in the medical imaging industry. According to the Association of American Medical College’s most recent analysis of the nation’s overall physician shortfall, the nationwide shortage of radiologists and other imaging specialists could top 35,000 by 2034. A major factor is the graying of the workforce; the analysis said roughly half of the current 21,000 radiologists are over the age of 55 and nearing retirement. Also cited was a high burnout rate, especially during the pandemic.

ImagingWorks will create a 12-week training program, including internships and job placement upon graduation at one of RadNet’s imaging centers or at other similar diagnostic imaging facilities in the Southern California region.

This training program is being funded by the family trust of RadNet’s chief executive, Howard Berger. The company and the trust declined to disclose how much the trust is investing in the training program.

Cedars’ new medical education dean

Underscoring the need for more training of current and future medical professionals, Cedars-Sinai announced on March 7 that it has created a new Dean of Medical Education position to oversee the hospital system’s graduate medical education, continuing medical education and other education programs.

Katznelson, who is currently associate dean of medical education at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, will join Cedars-Sinai in this new capacity on May 1. He also serves as chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee for Stanford Health Care and is a professor of neurosurgery and medicine at that medical school. 

“In the newly-created role, Dr. Katznelson will expand and strengthen Cedars-Sinai’s interdisciplinary education and training for physicians, academic clinicians and allied health professionals while fostering the integration of medical education with research,” Shlomo Melmed, executive vice president of academic affairs and dean of the medical faculty, said in the announcement.

Besides the major medical education programs, Katznelson will oversee the newly-formed Chuck Lorre School of Allied Health, which will provide training for people seeking to enter chronically-understaffed specialties. He will also supervise the health system’s medical library.

Katznelson welcomed the challenge of the newly-created post.

“Cedars-Sinai is a national leader in medical education,” Katznelson said. “I am eager to join the team and advance this exciting work. I look forward to developing new strategies and programs to train and educate new generations of clinicians and investigators.”

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