UC Riverside med school finally wins accreditation

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A year after it failed to win accreditation over funding questions, the UC Riverside medical school is back on track to open next fall. UCR just won preliminary approval from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education.

The Washington, DC-based group decides whether medical schools are good enough and have the financial means to win accreditation – the seal of approval that says a med school offers top-notch training.

On Monday evening, UCR will hold a campus celebration to mark the medical school's achievement.

Last year, the Liaison Committee for Medical Education denied accreditation after California lawmakers yanked millions of dollars critical funding. So UCR raised its own money, including a 10-year, $20-million commitment from Riverside County that helped secure accreditation.

Without accreditation, UCR would have lost out on federal grants needed to get the program up and running.

But UCR medical school dean Richard Olds said local fundraising can't be a substitute for funding from the state.

“As excited as I am about getting this school open - we’re going to take our first class of 50 students in 2013 - I don’t want anyone to think that this means we don’t need state money,” said Olds. “Of course we need state money.”

Now the school needs students. Olds said UCR will begin reviewing applications late this month. Other medical schools are already recruiting for next fall.

Olds is confident UCR will get quality students who’ll someday fill the Inland region’s doctor shortage.

“We have a 3,000 physician deficit in Inland Southern California today and it’ll be a 5,000 physician deficit in 10 years," said Olds. "My training a very small number of doctors is not going to fill that gap.”

“But by getting the doors of the school open, I at least make sure the school does not fail to materialize. There are five UCs without medical schools. I’m sure every one of them would want our med school.”

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