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Program to train physicians in underserved communities receives $100M

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$100 million from California’s General Fund is being assigned to train primary care physician’s in California’s medically underserved areas.

The money will go towards the Song-Brown Program, which supports residency programs for doctors who live in or serve rural areas across the state, and may be used for renovating or building new training facilities and clinics.

Money used to for install training clinics in underserved areas is a strategic move: residents who train for three years in one area tend to stay there.

“When osteopathic physicians and medical doctors — all of whom are equally trained and equally licensed to practice the healing arts — do their residencies in underserved areas, they tend to remain there once they start their own practices or join medical groups,” said Abraham Pera, an osteopathic physician who teaches radiology at Touro University in Vallejo, California, and the current president of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California.

In addition, by living in these communities physicians may already connect with patients needing care.

“This means they get the chance to know and understand their patient population,” said Kathleen Creason, executive director of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California. “In rural areas, this may include poverty-line farmers and those who fish or cut timber for a living. The loss of manufacturing, as well as industry deregulation, dealt terrible blows to both industries,” she said.

Rural communities often contain a large population of immigrants and seniors—both specific groups that need a particular type of care and access to facilities. Towns in the Central Valley region of California are in particular need of more doctors and clinics to serve their populations.

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