OHSU, UC Davis Partner to Address Rural Health Disparities

June 6, 2019
AMA grant to help medical students, residents train in rural settings between Sacramento and Portland

Research shows that minority, tribal and rural populations suffer poor health outcomes because of inequalities in social conditions and uneven distribution of physicians. To address this type of disparity, Oregon Health & Science University and the University of California, Davis, are working to expand access to quality healthcare between Sacramento and Portland through a network of teaching hospitals and clinics in mostly rural areas.

With a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the American Medical Association, the medical schools at OHSU and UC Davis plan to establish a graduate medical education collaborative known as COMPADRE, short for California Oregon Medical Partnership to Address Disparities in Rural Education and Health.

Over the next several years, COMPADRE will place hundreds of medical students and resident physicians to train under faculty and community physicians at 10 healthcare systems, 16 hospitals and a network of Federally Qualified Health Center partners throughout Northern California and Oregon. Students and residents will provide services in seven medical specialties.

COMPADRE’S main goals are to: address healthcare workforce shortages in rural, tribal, urban and other communities that lack resources; increase access to healthcare providers; and improve the health of patients from ethnic and racial minority groups who are disproportionately affected by certain conditions.

The grant is part of Reimagining Residency, the AMA’s effort to better align the physician workforce to the needs of the U.S. healthcare system. 

“Our responsibility as a medical school is not only to train outstanding physicians, but also to train physicians who meet the needs of all our communities,” said Sharon Anderson, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine, in a statement. “This grant provides the resources and framework needed to build on our existing efforts in an intentional and coordinated manner so that we have more and even clearer pathways for students and trainees motivated to serve where they are most needed. We applaud the AMA for this vehicle to better serve our country and are thrilled about our partnership with UC Davis.”

Both schools also participated in the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative. The funding allowed the Sacramento-based UC Davis School of Medicine to create a three-year degree curriculum in addition to its usual four-year education to more quickly fill the need for primary care physicians, known as the Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care program. A similar grant allowed the OHSU School of Medicine to re-engineer its curriculum so that medical students can better care for patients and populations in the rapidly changing digital era.

When the two institutions learned of the AMA’s new effort to reimagine residency training, each considered the most difficult problems facing the medical education system: physician burnout, students being unprepared to transition to the next phase of graduate medical training, workforce shortages and health disparities in rural and underserved communities. 

The AMA announced its Reimagining Residency grant awardees in Chicago on June 5. More than 300 institutions and organizations collaborated to submit 252 grant proposals and only eight were selected to receive the full amount of funding.