BERKELEY, CA – As surging health insurance enrollments under the Affordable Care Act increase the need for primary care providers, LifeLong Medical Care is grappling with the demand and helping to address the shortage by providing training and residency programs for a range of health care professionals.
Most of LifeLong Medical Care’s 17 community health centers have programs where students in various health professions gain clinical experience. LifeLong offers programs not only for medical residents, but also provides clinical training for nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses.
At current utilization, California will need an estimated 8,243 additional primary care physicians by 2030, or 32% of its current workforce, according to a report by health workforce researchers Jeff Oxendine, Associate Dean for Public Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Kevin Barnett, a Senior Investigator at the Public Health Institute. The report, “Horizon 2030: Meeting California’s Primary Care Workforce Needs,” also states that California’s ratio of primary care physicians participating in Medi-Cal is about half of the federal recommendation.
“LifeLong has a formal relationship with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and University of California at Berkeley (UCB) Joint Medical Program, and we host the M1-M3 (first through third years of medical school) students at several sites,” says Eric Henley, MD, LifeLong Medical Care’s Chief Medical Officer.
Several LifeLong health centersalso host medical residents, including Kaiser Permanente Internal Medicine Residents and Highland Hospital Residents. In addition, LifeLong Medical Care hosts Touro College of Pharmacy Residents.
“We are working with the City of Berkeley to provide clinical experience for two preventive medicine residents they hope to be hosting in the coming year,” said Dr. Henley. LifeLong would provide training for the residents if they agree to accept positions with the city. The program is not yet finalized. The residents would be funded by the State Health Department.
LifeLong also provides training for two physicians as part of the domestic portion of the UCSF/UC Berkeley HEAL (Health, Equity, Action & Leadership) Fellowship. Each fellow rotates between an underserved domestic and international site. The training takes place at LifeLong’s facility in Berkeley. HEAL recruits from a diverse pool of highly qualified health professionals with a deep commitment to addressing health equity and social justice.
LifeLong also provides residency programs for nurse practitioners.
In addition, LifeLong is advocating for Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s bill (AB 2216) to support new or expanded primary care residency programs in federally qualified health centers, says Marty Lynch, LifeLong Medical Care’s Executive Director.
“We need funds to support this work,” says Lynch. “Most funds now go to academic medical centers or hospital-based residencies. As a result, it’s nosurprise we get too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians. It’s critical that we look at novel ways to train primary care providers so that we can meet the long-term needs of our community.”
About LifeLong Medical Care: LifeLong Medical Care is an innovative, non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center serving Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin Counties with 14 health centers, two Dental Centers, an Adult Day Health Center, three school-based health centers, a Supportive Housing Program, and Urgent Care services. For more information visit: www.lifelongmedical.org.