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Kaiser Permanente Grant to Expand UCLA International Medical Center Graduate Program
Date:5/5/2009

th care to underserved communities and addressing health disparities are priorities for Kaiser Permanente," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy. "Efforts like the UCLA IMG program are crucial to addressing the supply of primary care physicians and access to culturally competent care for all communities. We are committed to building the future of health care in California and proud to partner with the UCLA Medical School."

The UCLA IMG program was formed in 2006 with private funds to increase the number of bilingual Hispanic family practitioners in California. Hispanics represent one-third of the state's 36.5 million population, yet only 5 percent of the physician workforce. According to Michelle Anne Bholat, MD, MPH, executive director of the program, more than 200 languages are spoken in Los Angeles County, with Spanish being the most common. Studies have documented repeatedly that patients face significant barriers to accessing medical care when their physician neither speaks their language nor understands their cultural traditions and practices. Approximately 35 percent of California's Hispanic population lives in medically underserved areas, compared to 20 percent of the total number of Hispanics in the state.

The program helped Miguel Casillas, 28, achieve his dream of practicing medicine in the United States. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in Tijuana, Casillas had always been interested in the sciences and initially had considered a career as a surgeon. But changed direction during his final year of medical school at the Autonomous University of Baja California in Tijuana, when he fulfilled a required Social Service year in clinics in underserved areas.

These were people with little money and no insurance, and the patients were always grateful for the service the doctors provided, which included access to free sample me
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