WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Virginia’s U.S Senator Tim Kaine introduced a bill to support medical schools in underserved areas.
According to Kaine the bill will tackle the lack of representation of rural students, underserved students, and students of color in the physician field. The “Expanding Medical Education Act” will provide grants to colleges and universities to establish medical schools in underserved areas in the Commonwealth, including historically black colleges and universities.
According to Kaine recent data shows that while medical school enrollment is up by 305, the number of students from rural areas entering medicine declined by 28% between 2002 and 2017, with only 4.3% of all incoming medical students coming from rural areas in 2017. Similarly, Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American students face several barriers to matriculate and graduate from medical school.
Kaine said, “Communities of color and those living in rural and underserved areas face significant barriers to health care. Medical students of color and those from rural areas are more likely to practice in the communities they’re from but in many of these places there are limited pathways.”
The Expanding Medical Education Act will also..
- Planning and construction of a new medical school in an area where no other school is based or a branch campus.
- Activities to meet the accreditation criteria for a medical school.
- Hiring diverse faculty and other staff.
- Recruitment, enrollment, and retention of students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities, students from rural and underserved areas, low-income students, and first generation college students.
- Supporting educational programs.
- Modernizing and expanding infrastructure.
- Other activities determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Require reporting to Congress on the activities conducted under the grants and associated outcomes.
- Authorize funding of $1 billion to be available until expended.
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