Touro awarded grant to promote a diverse healthcare workforce

The Vallejo Times-Herald

Touro University California has received a grant to provide a 2-week Bridge Program and assist physician assistant (PA) students complete rotations in rural and underserved areas, the university announced last week.

The $96,000 monies come from a Song-Brown Healthcare Workforce Training Programs Grant through the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). This is the twelfth year in a row the university’s Joint Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies / Master of Public Health (MSPAS/MPH) Program has received the grant.

“Starting in 2012, we’ve provided a 2-week Bridge Program for up to 10 incoming students.  Since that time, we’ve not had any student attrition due to academics, so we’re happy that we will be able to continue the program,” said Joint MSPAS/MPH Program Director Grace Landel, in a TUC press release. “The rest of the funds will be used for student housing and transportation stipends to rotations in areas of unmet need. Part of our mission is to educate PAs to work with underserved populations and increase access to care. Experience in these settings increases the likelihood that graduates will practice there.”

TUC’s application was one of eighteen that were funded.

Since 2002, TUC’s Joint MSPAS/MPH Program has prepared students to become PAs with a public health perspective. By integrating coursework, students earn two degrees simultaneously over a 33-month period.

As part of the program, students choose a specialized public health track – the Community Health track for those who will work with state, community and nonprofit public health organizations; the Global Health track that prepares students to be effective leaders and advocates for global health; or the newly created Health Equity and Criminal Justice track that prepares students to advocate for and address the health needs of populations involved in the justice system.

“The Joint MSPAS/MPH program seeks to increase access to quality healthcare across California and beyond,” said Dr. Sarah Sweitzer, TUC Provost & CAO, in the same release. “The funds from this grant help us ensure students from underserved areas are receiving the support they need to focus on their studies. This is reflected in our 99.6% student pass rate – and over 95% first-time pass rate – on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam.”

The Song-Brown Healthcare Workforce Training Programs Grant provides funding to education programs to provide clinical training and education in underserved areas, to incentivize programs to increase the number of underrepresented minority primary care practitioners, and increase access to healthcare to the state’s underserved population.

Funded programs are evaluated based on the percentage of graduates from underserved areas, percentage of disadvantaged students, and percentage of graduates serving underserved areas in the state.

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