Medical Education Initiative (MEDI)
MEDI partners are aiming to provide a locally accessible and comprehensive medical education program focused on alleviating the shortage of healthcare professionals, while also addressing the significant health care challenges faced by residents throughout Kern County and the Central Valley. Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield College, the Kern Community College District, and the Rural HEAL Collaborative have come together and are inviting others to support in this initiative.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been both a source of disruption as well as a catalyst, bringing clarity and urgency to the needs of increasing access to local options for medical education, a concept that has been brewing for the past decade. By launching a new medical education program, we can improve the health of communities by retaining homegrown talent who will stay, work within, and serve their home communities. Kern Medical and Bakersfield College are ready to respond via the Medical Education Initiative (MEDI).
Medical Education Initiative (MEDI)
Why is Kern County the ideal location for a med ed program?
Kern County is the ideal location for a medical education program due to its medical professional shortage, the critical healthcare needs of its residents, the medical education provided by Kern Medical, and the coalescence of the community in support of this initiative.
What currently exists and what needs to be expanded?
Kern Medical is Kern County's only teaching hospital. Located in East Bakersfield, the 222-bed hospital serves 3 main roles: as an Academic Teaching Hospital, Safety Net Facility, and the only Level II Trauma center in a 100-mile radius. Their programs train more than 115 residents per year with ACGME accredited residencies in Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Psychiatry and fellowships in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Infectious Disease. The academic center also sponsors a fully accredited Clinical Pharmacy residency.
In addition, Kern Medical hosts third year and fourth year clerkships for nearly 130 medical students.
As part of a commitment to the learning environment, Kern Medical has invested in a broad range of RN's and ancillary service professionals including Simulation Lab specialists, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, LVNs, medical records specialists, medical dosimetrists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, Wound Care Specialists, and Pharmacy Technicians. As such, Kern Medical has the educational curriculum and the professional resources to equip students with the necessary training and experiential learning opportunities that will prepare them to become future healthcare leaders serving the Kern County community.
Kern County nurses consistently rank among the most trusted professionals, a trust eminently well-earned through their compassion, strength, and selfless dedication toward improving and saving lives. Serving on the front lines, they have been our local health care heroes in the effort to contain and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Nurses can't do it alone as it takes a team of health care professionals to care for our community. Bakersfield College wants to do our part to support a diverse population of students who are eager to serve our rural areas that need them most.
The expansion of Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, RNs, LVNs, medical records specialists, medical dosimetrists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, and Pharmacy Technicians education and the ability to equip students with the necessary training and experiential learning opportunities will prepare them to become leaders in the Kern County Community. Nurses consistently rank among the most trusted professionals, and it is a trust eminently well-earned through their compassion, strength, and selfless dedication to improving and saving lives. Serving on the front lines of healthcare, they are heroes in the effort to contain and defeat the COVID-19 virus. Bakersfield College wants to do our part to support the diverse students who are eager to serve our rural areas that need them most.
The RURAL Health Equity and Learning (HEAL) Collaborative: Bakersfield College and statewide partners at UC Merced, Cal State University Fresno's Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI), and UCSF at Fresno State established the Rural Health Equity And Learning (HEAL) Collaborative in November 2019. Bakersfield College is dedicated to educating students in Kern and surrounding counties to providing high-quality, affordable health care education and to improving the health of the communities we serve. We believe good health is a fundamental right shared by all, and we recognize that good health requires equity, social and economic well-being. These are the vital signs of healthy communities. Better health outcomes begin where health starts in our communities. The HEAL Collaborative engages in various pilot projects and initiatives that catalyze efforts to address rural health inequities, educational attainment, workforce demands, and improve wellness.
The value of healthcare education has never been more evident today as we grapple with the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism. By coming together, bolstering academic programs, and providing opportunities for students to turn their on-the-ground experiences into health care innovations can substantially impact outcomes and quality of life for Kern County.
Shortage of Medical Professionals
Kern County has a dire shortage of medical professionals. The total shortages include Primary Care, Pediatrics, Allergy & Immunology, Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Rheumatology, Oncology Surgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, ENT, Urology, Psychiatry, and Radiology. The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand Projections From 2018 to 2033 showed a shortage of primary care physicians by 63, pediatric medicine 37,
and OBGYN by 14. (Kaiser Community Health Needs Assessment, 2019 & The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand Projections From 2018 to 2033, 2020). The US Health Resources and Services Agency (US HRSA) and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (CA OSHPD) have identified several Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs), the lack of an adequate number of primary care professionals in and around Bakersfield, Delano / McFarland, and Ridgecrest in eastern Kern County. Labor market data for physicians, surgeons and physician assistants indicate no regional completions and a significant number of 2020 hires and projected annual openings per year through 2030.
|Title||SOC||2020 Jobs||2020 Hires||2020 Separations||Avg Annual Openings||2030 Jobs|
Source: Economic Modeling Occupations by Location (2021.05.06).
The current shortage of physicians has renewed the need for PAs, who can be trained in a shorter time than medical doctors and can practice in every medical setting and specialty. The demand is so high that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) projects the profession will increase by 31% from 2018 to 2028. Kern County also has a shortage of Nurse Practitioners, RNs, LVNs, medical records specialists, medical dosimetrists, Speech Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, and Pharmacy Technicians (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017).
Rural Kern County
Kern County is the 11th most populous county in the nation with a total population greater than that of South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. Compared to the nation as a whole, Kern County residents are in general younger, less educated, have lower income and are more likely to be Hispanic.
Kern County includes 242 cities, towns, and communities. West Kern communities including Taft are small with the primary industry of oil and gas extraction and construction. The east Kern communities from Edwards, Cal City, and Ridgecrest are small communities primarily based on military installations and related contractors. Central valley communities along the 99 freeway including in and around Bakersfield as well as Delano, McFarland, Wasco, and others have an economy that is based primarily on oil and gas extraction /construction, agriculture and directly related service industries, and indirect retail and sales service industries.
Kern County Population
Kern County's most recent estimated population is 900,202 people (see Table 2) of which 54.6% are Hispanic / Latino, 32.8% White, 6.3% Black / African American, 5.4% Asian, 2.9% Native American / Alaska Native / Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander, and 3.2% were two or more races.
|Total Population: Kern County||900,202|
|Black or African American||6.3%|
|Hispanic or Latino||54.6%|
|Native American and Alaska Native||2.6%|
|Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander||0.3%|
|Two or More Races||3.2%|
Kern County Socioeconomic Data
The US Census Bureau (2019) estimates that 19% of Kern County residents are below the federal poverty level. The Public Policy Institute of California (2017, 2018) estimates that between 20 and 27% of Kern County children live in households that have incomes below the federal poverty level. The majority, between 60-66% percent of children live in households that have one or more working parent(s) (PPIC, 2017, 2018).
The California Employment Development Department (CA EDD 2021) indicates that the current (preliminary) unemployment rate for March 2021 is 11.1%. However, it should be noted that labor market participation is down from 380,000 to 368,500 month over month which increased the unemployment rate despite a drop in unemployment from 41,400 in February 2021 (10.9%) to 40,900 in March 2021 (11.1%).
The percentage of uninsured people in Kern County (under age 65) is 9% (US Census Bureau, 2019). In 2016, 97.7% of children under age 18 had health insurance (Kern County Network for Children, 2019). Therefore, the majority of the 81,018 uninsured people in Kern County are adults over age 18.
The US Census Bureau (2019) reported that 25.9% or 233,152 Kern County adults over age 25, do not have a high school diploma.
|Socioeconomic Data: Kern County||Percent of Population||Source|
|Persons in Poverty||19%||U.S. Census Bureau (2019) and U.S. Census Bureau (2017)|
|Children in poverty (most recent data available 2014-16)||20.8%-27%||California Poverty Measure|
|Unemployment||11.1%||CA EDD (Apr 2021)|
|Uninsured population (under age 65)||9.0%||U.S. Census Bureau (2019)|
|Adults (age 25+) without high school diploma||25.9%||U.S. Census Bureau (2019)|
The US Health Resources and Services Agency (US HRSA) and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (CA OSHPD) has designated several Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) within Kern County. These include areas in and around Bakersfield, Delano, McFarland, and Ridgecrest.
Kern County and the Central Valley are severely under-resourced healthcare provider communities. Identifying disparities in the upstream factors that predict adverse health outcomes is critical to Bakersfield Colleges' community health mission.
In aggregate, the Kern County service area is in the 27th percentile for health opportunities among California residents. In effect, this means that 7 out of 10 Californians have a more significant opportunity to live a long healthy life than residents living in the Kern County service area (Kaiser CHNA 2019). Based on estimated calculations on population weighted Healthy Places Index (HPI) scores using the most recent US census data. Approximately 2 out of every three people in the Kern County service area (well over 519,000) live in a severely under-resourced area with limited access to health care resources.
Why Bakersfield College?
This partnership will eventually establish a full-scale medical education program to expand the pool of physicians here in Kern County. This partnership will support an innovative coalition of public and private partners committed to addressing (1) research (2) policy issues (3) workforce development and (4) innovative projects in the healthcare sector.
Bakersfield College will play a leadership role in:
- Providing critical job training to the region to ensure a robust and well trained workforce to meet the healthcare workforce demands
- Facilitating strategic research and statewide discussions on the development of a medical education program in Kern County
- Convening health providers, governmental agencies, technical experts, and institutions of higher learning offer a space for substantive conversations, which may serve to influence state and local policy to expand medical education in Kern County.
Kern Medical will serve as a strategic technology partner to help guide and advise on the creation of a medical education program at Bakersfield College, a content partner to support Bakersfield College students and students in the Central Valley, as well as faculty with cutting-edge knowledge to develop a full medical education program, and a research partner on the resources and partnerships necessary to establish a full scale medical program in Kern County.
- CA EDD (Apr 2021). Labor Market Information Kern County, California
- Kaiser Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) (Sept. 2019). Southern California, Kern County CHNA (pdf.)
- Public Policy Institute of California, & Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, California Poverty Measure (Nov. 2018). Retrieved from Kids Data (2021, April 29)
- Public Policy Institute of California (Feb. 2017). Geography of Child Poverty in California. (Kern County)
- U.S. Census Bureau (2019). American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, Current Population Survey
- U.S. Census Bureau (2017). National Population Projections Datasets