CLAREMONT, Calif. — The Claremont Colleges plans to open a medical school, the fourth new campus designed to produce physicians for parts of Southern California struggling with shortages.
The Keck Graduate Institute School of Medicine will focus on primary care and treating the growing Latino population in California, institute officials announced this week. The school hopes to hire its founding dean by next summer, and open a few years after that.
Administrators hope many of the graduates will stay to practice medicine in eastern Los Angeles County or the Inland Empire, an ethnically diverse region that encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties and is home to about 4 million people.
“Our goal is to recruit them from here, train them here and keep them here,” said Sheldon Schuster, president of the Keck Graduate Institute. The institute is part of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate institutions about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The institute already has a pharmacy school.
“There is such an incredible demand for people who … understand the community and who speak the language,” Schuster said.
The campus joins a wave of new medical schools across the nation that began opening in the early 2000s. “There has been a huge increase in the last 15 years,” said Atul Grover, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Historically, however, California had not been part of that wave. Now, he said, “the state has been trying to play catch-up.”
The California University of Science and Medicine, funded by the Prime Healthcare Foundation, is debuting this summer in Colton, in San Bernardino County, with a class of 60. The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine, which opened in 2013, recently graduated its second class, made up of 49 medical students.