New Pasadena Medical School is Meant to Meet Kaiser Permanente’s Mission

Published : Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | 5:43 AM

Mark Schuster

The new Kaiser Permanente Medical School slated for a Pasadena campus is meant neither as a farm system for the healthcare provider, nor a source of profits.

Kaiser announced Tuesday the school will open to its first students in the summer of 2020. In addition, the school announced that it will waive all tuition for the full four years of school for its first five classes.

“This is not a profit venture at all,” said Mark Schuster, founding dean and chief executive officer, Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. “Kaiser has a mission to improve the health and well-being of its members, and the School of Medicine is a logical extension of that mission.”

Kaiser, observed Schuster, has developed a particular approach to care that is integrated and team-based. Medical professionals from around the world come to learn what they can from the Kaiser approach.

“This is just really the next step in trying to improve health and health care,” explained Schuster. “Kaiser has trained medical students from other schools who come in and spend a month. The next step is to open our own school and have our own students.”

As mentioned, the purpose is not that the school serve as a training ground for future Kaiser Permanente employees.

“We are sending our students out all around the country,” said Schuster, “and we hope they will take patient-centered care, population health and an appreciation of disparities all over the country.”

There are, he said, not enough spots for all of those who want to go to medical school nationally. In fact, more than half of applicants find no scholastic home at which to learn and grow. This fact flies in the face of the reality on the ground, which is that the country’s population is aging and the need for healthcare providers is growing.

“We’ve been given the opportunity to rebuild medical education from the ground up and take the best of what’s going on from medical schools all around the country and beyond,” said Schuster. “We will put together a medical education experience that will set our students up to be outstanding physicians, to be advocates for their patients, both at the local level and in the community more broadly.”

Speaking of the local level, Schuster expressed an unbridled enthusiasm for the school’s placement in Pasadena, at 98 South Las Robles Avenue, specifically.

“The mayor and city council, and everyone else have been very gracious in welcoming us,” he concluded a Feb. 19 interview. “We have felt great enthusiasm and are thrilled to be here. You go to the Pasadena Playhouse where they have this amazing show, ‘Ragtime,’ right now. We can send our students there and then they can go to Old Town and have great meals. We think our students are going to love it here.”

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