It's no surprise that large heath systems are opening their own medical schools but their goals may differ. For example, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine is designed to train physician investigators (see: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University). Kaiser Permanente has just announced plans to open a medical school but it's clear that the goals of Kaiser are much different than those of Cleveland Clinic (see: Kaiser to open medical school). Below is an excerpt from the article:
Kaiser Permanente will open its own independent medical school in Southern California, with its first class expected to enroll in fall 2019. The Oakland, Calif.-based not-for-profit system is planning a school that will emphasize patient care. Leaders say they want to bring Kaiser's “21st century medicine” model to a broader audience by teaching future doctors how to provide high-quality, population-based care for patients that relies upon a team-based approach to improve outcomes while lowering costs, a method that's proven successful for Kaiser....A legal entity for the school is expected to be established in the coming months, and Kaiser will begin planning for the accreditation process soon thereafter. Leaders haven't finalized a location in Southern California, but will begin looking for a dean in the coming year. Kaiser leaders have spent the past five years crafting a plan for the school, which expects to welcome around 44 students in its inaugural class....Kaiser still has to work through the details of how the school will be funded, but the system will consider using community benefit funding to support some of its existing medical education programs. Kaiser already operates a School of Allied Health Sciences in Richmond, Calif. Over 600 physicians are currently completing their residency programs at Kaiser facilities, and affiliated programs send several thousand more to the system for a portion of their training. Kaiser has 38 hospitals and a large network of clinics that serve over 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, and recently announced it would acquire the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative....The AAMC has expressed concern that new schools have opened and enrollment has grown as residency slots remain tight. When asked whether Kaiser is concerned it could be adding to that problem, ...[a Kaiser spokesperson] said the system continues to expand its already large residency program.
Large health systems like Kaiser are appropriately concerned about their pipeline for physicians and allied health personnel. It's clearly in Kaiser's best interests to maintain high-quality residency programs and, now, to launch a a medical school to educate physicians in a way that supports their care delivery model. Note the emphasis in the excerpt above on training physicians who are focused on clinical care and improving outcomes while lowering costs. They are clearly anticipating value-based care and they want to train physicians who can practice in such an environment. One would think that the Cleveland Clinic might have had goals similar to those of Kaiser and yet they created a medical school to train physician investigators. I think in this latter case, they may have been pursing the interests of an influential donor. It's also interesting that, having created such a medical school, they have now aligned it with the long-established medical school in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University. It may have been the case that they could no longer justify totally supporting the expense of a research-oriented medical school.