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UC Riverside gets preliminary OK to open med school

October 2, 2012 |  8:00 pm

A national accrediting agency has approved UC Riverside’s plan to open a full medical school and to start enrolling future doctors next summer. It would be the sixth medical school in the University of California system and the first to open since the late 1960s.

Last year, the same panel rejected the proposal because it looked too risky after the state refused to fund the school. But UC Riverside officials have since secured enough other public and private financing  for a program that they say will help ease a doctor shortage in the Inland Empire and improve public healthcare there.

“Because we had tried and failed before, it is all the sweeter to have succeeded a year later,” said UC Riverside medical school Dean G. Richard Olds, clearly pleased with the news.

The “preliminary accreditation” from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education allows UC Riverside to start recruiting students with the goal of enrolling 50 a year beginning next August, officials said. The agency’s action was reported to be the first time in three decades that an American medical school was approved after previously having been denied.

Badly stung by last year’s rejection, Olds and other UC Riverside leaders campaigned for and won about $100 million in donations and pledges to support the school for 10 years. The donors included the UC system itself, Riverside County, the quasi-governmental Desert Healthcare District and affiliated hospitals.

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 --Larry Gordon

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