Holly Mitchell Bill Will Add New Doctors To Underserved Communities In California

July 16, 2012

SACRAMENTO – A new law authored by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell establishes a pilot project allowing graduates of approved foreign medical schools to engage in hands-on training while being instructed in patient care by licensed California physicians.

AB 1533, which applies to UCLA's International Medical Graduate (IMG) Program, was sponsored by the University of California and the Medical Board of California, and passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. Now signed by the Governor, AB 1533 allows medical school graduates of foreign schools whose curricula meet the Medical Board of California's requirements and who legally reside in the U.S. to put down their clipboards and acquire the same supervised, interactive experience with patients as current UCLA medical students.

Today we begin to eliminate two tier medical training for our future doctors, said Assemblymember Mitchell (D-Culver City), author of AB 1533, whose district includes UCLA. The federal Affordable Care Act mandates that we provide health care for millions who are now uninsured, so we need more physicians coming through California's pipeline who are competent and committed to treat patients whose home language isn't English.

Hands-on clinical experience is required to become a licensed physician in California, but foreign medical school graduates have been restricted to observer instruction until later in their medical training than graduates of U.S. medical schools. UCLA's IMG program, founded in 2006, is a pre-residency program that recruits talented bilingual and bicultural IMGs. As a condition of the program, the trainees make a two- to three-year future commitment to practice in a medically underserved California community. It is a potential model for future IMG training.

The Medical Board of California would like to thank Assemblymember Holly Mitchell for carrying this important legislation and the University of California for their support as fellow co-sponsors, said Linda K. Whitney, executive director of the Medical Board of California. Access to quality care is a primary concern of the Medical Board, and this bill will help increase the placement of bilingual primary care physicians in California training programs.

The IMG program is an example of how UCLA innovation impacts the whole state., said co-founders of UCLA's IMG program, Michelle Ann Bholat, MD, MPH, and Patrick Dowling, MD, MPH, chair, Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Patty Cabrera, a graduate of the program, practices in Tulare County, which is 61% Hispanic yet has only 42 Hispanic physicians out of a total of 486. In doing so she not only addresses the immense shortage of primary care in the area, but bridges the linguistic and cultural barriers that interfere with effective care for so many.

54 UCLA IMGs have been placed in family medicine residences serving underserved communities in California. The chart below identifies the places UCLA IMGs are now serving.

Contact:  Charles Stewart, (310) 342-1070