Developing leaders committed to improving health in historically marginalized communities with inequitable access to healthcare.
We are excited to announce the Urban Health Equity Pathway, a new chapter in the over 40-year partnership between the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU)! We began this partnership in creating the UCLA/CDU Medical Education Program (MEP) in 1981.
The program develops leaders who advance medical practice and knowledge in under-resourced communities in the United States and abroad.
The program has graduated over 800 physicians to date. In October 2022, CDU received approval to establish the first medical school in South Los Angeles with an inaugural 2027 class.
This planned outcome of the MEP is an achievement that was made possible, in part, by the tremendous success of the CDU/UCLA MEP program. Both CDU and DGSOM have undergone transformative changes over the past 40 years, and realize that we are now in a position to transform what has historically existed as the CDU/UCLA MEP into a new partnership that reflects the evolution of both institutions, as well as the changes in medicine and society. Leadership at both institutions are committed to ensuring the continuation of our valuable collaboration and the success of our new educational partnership. The traditional MEP program will transition with the DGSOM Class of 2027. We will launch the Urban Health Equity Pathway (Pathway) beginning with the class of 2028.
What is the Urban Health Equity Pathway?
The Pathway is a curricular and experiential program to advance health, research, and medical practice for under-resourced communities in Los Angeles. The program is geared toward students who are interested in health equity, health disparities, urban health and social justice. Pathway students are selected each year through a competitive application process. As part of the Pathway, students build longitudinal relationships with DGSOM and CDU faculty as well as community partner organizations. Those who complete all requirements of the Pathway will have details of their achievement noted in their MSPE (Dean’s Letter).
The Pathway engages students in the following experiences throughout their medical school experience:
- Community Service – Learners interact with community-based organizations in Los Angeles. Pathway students will be placed at dedicated community-based sites in the first year of medical school as part of the Early Authentic Clinical Experience course. This real-world experience is facilitated by DGSOM, CDU, and community partners and is designed to provide students with an early experience of health care in urban under-resourced areas.
- Discovery – A year for scholarly research with dedicated Pathway advisors. Pathway students will have access to all Discovery year research offerings. In addition, Pathway students will have dedicated opportunities to collaborate on community-based research experiences with partners such as the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), as well as UCLA CTSI and the collaboration between the CTSI and CDU. Students may also opt to enroll in one of the six dual degrees offered.
- Electives – Advanced clinical electives will be available for Pathway students in the fourth year of medical school. The program will also be working on expanding clerkship opportunities in urban settings.
Foundations; Pathway Educational and Clinical Experiences
Discovery / Dual Degree
Core Competencies of the Pathway
In addition to DGSOM competencies, medical students in the Pathway will also achieve the following competencies.
- Cultural Competency and Humility - Understand the structural and social determinants of health and the impact of cultural beliefs and practices on health outcomes.
- Health Equity – Understand the root causes of health inequities and strategies to promote health equity.
- Interprofessional Collaboration – Develop skills to collaborate effectively with other healthcare professionals providing comprehensive care, and treating the ‘whole person’.
- Community Engagement – Collaborate with community-based organizations, local leaders, and patients to understand the needs of the community.
- Health Promotion & Disease Prevention – Understand effective strategies to promote healthy behaviors and prevent disease for at-risk populations.
- Patient-Centered Care – Provide patient-centered care that is sensitive to the unique needs of communities that are underserved with
limited access to healthcare services. Develop culturally appropriate treatment plans.
- Advocacy – Advocate for health equity, access to care, and social justice as well as understanding the role of public health policies in improving health outcomes.
Requirements of the Pathway
- Pathway students must meet all the requirements of the DGSOM MD program, in addition students must complete required pathway educational and clinical experiences, engage in urban health equity related projects, and participate in pathway related activities throughout their MD years.
- Community Service is the first activity associated with the Urban Health Equity Pathway. Learners typically complete their service by the end first year of medical school. The service is comprised of real-life experiential learning as well as self-reflection and facilitated conversations with faculty.
- Discovery year preparation begins as early as the first year of medical school. Learners explore the areas of research, engage with faculty mentors, and select a research project or community-based research experience for their Discovery year. Learners complete the required number of research hours and a capstone project.
- Future learners may opt to complete a Master’s degree offered at UCLA.
- Complete pathway-specific elective courses.
Additional activities (optional)
- Students are supported in local and national advocacy activities, as well as attendance to a local/national convenings on urban health. E.g. Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County – Annual Health Care Symposium
Applications for the Urban Health Equity Pathway are included in the general DGSOM application and submitted concurrently. Late applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions, please contact the DGSOM Admissions Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Urban Health Equity Pathway?
The Pathway is a curricular and experiential program to advance health, research, and medical practice for under-resourced communities. The program is geared toward students who are interested in health equity, health disparities, urban health and social justice. The Pathway launches with the class of 2028.
What is the application process for the Pathway?
Applications for the Urban Health Equity Pathway are included in the general DGSOM application and submitted concurrently. A limited number of applicants will also be considered following an offer of admissions during the first year of medical school provided there is capacity. If you have questions, please contact: email@example.com.
What are some of the benefits of joining the Pathway?
Joining the Pathway offers many benefits for both personal and professional growth. The program offers a cohort-style format, creating cohesiveness and belonging among Pathway students. Throughout the program, students engage with dedicated mentors, renowned experts, and community leaders passionate about addressing health disparities. The interdisciplinary curriculum covers the complexities of healthcare in an urban health setting and provides community-engaged clinical experiences and research opportunities. Students are supported in local and national advocacy activities, as well as attendance to a local/national convenings on urban health.
How many students are accepted into the Urban Health Equity Pathway?
During the inaugural year of the Pathway (class of 2028), 8-12 students will be accepted into the program.
What type of research opportunities are offered for Pathway students?
In the HEALS curriculum, all DGSOM students have the opportunity to participate in a substantive research experience during the third year. Pathway students will have access to all research offerings. In addition, Pathway students will have dedicated opportunities to collaborate on community-based research experiences with partners such as the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), as well as UCLA CTSI and the collaboration between the CTSI and CDU. Students may also opt to enroll in one of the six dual degrees offered.
What type of clinical experiences are offered for Pathway students?
Pathway students will be placed at dedicated community-based sites in the first year of medical school as part of the Early Authentic Clinical Experience course. In addition, advanced clinical electives will be available for Pathway students in the fourth year of medical school. We are also working on expanding clerkship opportunities in urban settings.
What are the requirements for the Pathway?
Pathway students must meet all the requirements of the DGSOM MD program, in addition students must complete required pathway educational and clinical experiences, engage in urban health equity related projects, and participate in pathway related activities throughout their MD years. Those who complete all requirements of the Pathway will have details of their achievement noted in their MSPE (Dean’s Letter).
Can I enroll in the Global Health and Urban Health Equity Pathway together?
Students must choose one Pathway.
What is the difference between Prime and the Urban Health Equity Pathway? Can I be in PRIME and Urban Health Equity Pathway together?
The Prime Program is a five-year curriculum that also incorporates an MPH dual degree. The Urban Health Equity Pathway is the traditional four-year medical school curriculum with a Pathway specific curriculum. During the Discovery Year (3rd year) students may apply to a dual degree or participate in research activities for the Discovery course.
Students cannot be in the Prime and Pathway program together.
Does the Pathway have a concentration for students who do not formally get accepted into the Pathway?
At this time a concentration is not offered for the Pathway
Dr. Daphne Calmes, MD
Urban Health Equity Pathway
Dr. Calmes is the inaugural executive director for the Urban Health Equity Pathway. Shas led the Medical Education Program (MEP) for the past 17 years, as part of her responsibilities in her roles as Associate Dean of Medical Student Affairs for the CDU/UCLA Medical Education Program and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Calmes’ deep ties to both institutions will help to ensure that the partnership between UCLA and CDU remains as strong and dynamic as ever.
Dr. Calmes received her medical degree from UCLA, and her masters degree in health science from the UCLA School of Public Health. She completed her pediatrics residency and fellowship at King/Drew Medical Center, and her primary care research fellowship at UCLA. Dr. Calmes was appointed to and has held faculty positions at both institutions for over 30 years. Dr. Calmes’ contributions to teaching, administration, student life, and research over the past 30 years are innumerable. She has been a respected member of the leadership teams at both CDU and UCLA, and has personally supported the success of each of the over 800 students who have graduated from the MEP.
In this new role, Dr. Calmes will continue to be a familiar mentor and leadership presence for our remaining MEP students, and will carry the key responsibilities for launching the Urban Health Equity Pathway.
Brendan John, MPA
Urban Health Equity Pathway
Brendan John, MPA, is the inaugural Administrative Director for the Urban Health Equity Pathway. Brendan has over 20 years of experience working in the health space, as well as over 10 years working in health professions education, with the past 5 years helping to lead the curriculum transformation here at DGSOM.
Brendan has developed and managed several community-based programs focusing on access and equity. He has worked with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and many other community partners on initiatives aimed at enhancing access to care and reducing health disparities in Los Angeles County.
Adriana Izquierdo, MD, MSHS
Bita Amani Phd, MHS
Daphne Calmes MD, MPH
Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD
Eraka Bath, MD
Gerardo Moreno, MD, MS
Jaime Jordan, MD, MA
Jason Napolitano, MD,
Jerry Abraham, MD, MPH, CMQ
Kate Perkins, MD, PhD
Keith Norris, MD, PhD
Kristen Schwartz, PhD
Lee Miller, MD
Natasha Wheaton, MD
Roshan Basanti, PhD
Sharon Younkin, PhD