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Addressing health care needs of the Latino community: one medical school's approach.

Research paper by Alberto A Manetta, Frances F Stephens, José J Rea, Charles C Vega

Indexed on: 30 Nov '07Published on: 30 Nov '07Published in: Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges



Abstract

The Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine was designed to improve health care delivery, research, and policy in underserved Latino communities. Specialized training develops strongly committed physicians with linguistic skills and cultural understanding, enabling them to serve Latino patients. Presently, the health care system's shortage of providers with this expertise renders it unable to address the Latino community's needs adequately. The UCI School of Medicine realized they were proposing a radically different type of program at the onset of this project -- one designed to address the health care needs of a specific ethnic group. Developed with dual goals, PRIME-LC aspires to provide the Latino community with culturally sensitive, Spanish-speaking physicians who are well aware of medical and social conditions prevalent among Latinos, in addition to physicians with a broad understanding of community medicine who are well versed in advocacy and able to become leaders within and outside the Latino community. PRIME-LC must be placed within the context of predicted physician shortages in the United States attributable to the projected population increase in general and, more specifically, within the context of a growing Latino population nationwide. As medical schools prepare to increase their output, programs like PRIME-LC that address society's special needs deserve serious consideration.