The School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside will expand its graduate degree programs this fall with a Master of Public Policy designed for medical students interested in health care policy and reform.
The MD-MPP program is open only to students enrolled in the UCR School of Medicine, who will complete their medical and public policy training in five years. Medical degrees typically take four years to complete; the MPP is a two-year program.
“This is a niche degree that would appeal to students who, in addition to becoming practicing physicians, may want to become health care administrators and health policymakers,” explained Anil Deolalikar, dean of the School of Public Policy (SPP). “A lot of people creating health policy have very little medical training. It would help if physicians were more involved in shaping health policy.”
The new program reflects the importance both the School of Public Policy and School of Medicine place on developing public policymakers and physicians who will serve the Inland Empire. Areas that students can work in include federal and state health care policy, medical leadership advocacy, and health care consulting.
“We are pleased to partner with UCR’s School of Public Policy to create this distinctive concurrent degree program,” said Neal L. Schiller, interim dean of the School of Medicine. “This new program will offer our medical students yet another pathway to build leadership skills necessary for developing innovations in the health care system to benefit patients and the inland Southern California region as a whole.”
Students who enroll in the program will spend a full academic year at the School of Public Policy during what would have been their fourth year of medical school, then return to the School of Medicine the following year to finish their final year of medical education. They will complete a summer internship and a capstone project that is acceptable to both professional schools. Upon completion of the fourth year of medical school and the concurrent degree capstone project, students will be awarded two degrees: Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Public Policy (MPP).
“By partnering with the UCR School of Public Policy, our medical students will learn the skills needed to help influence healthcare policy that will in turn help fulfill our mission in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Michael Nduati, associate dean of clinical affairs at the UCR School of Medicine. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity available for our students. Health care reform affects all physicians and providers – from access to reimbursement. Increasingly more and more in recent years, major shifts in the health care landscape are being determined by policymakers and legislation. The MD-MPP program equips future physicians to take a central role in health care policy and programming that will shape the future of health care in California and throughout the nation.”
Both the School of Public Policy and the School of Medicine are enrolling students who want to improve the quality of life for residents of the Inland Empire, Deolalikar said.
“We are focused on developing future leaders whose training in public policy is grounded in the scientific approach, not armchair activism,” he said. “You have to have proper rigorous training in public policy to say what policies this region needs to make life better for everyone here. We need people who can produce the data, analyze policy options, and make sound recommendations.”
The School of Public Policy may pair the MPP with other graduate degree programs, such as the Master of Business Administration, and offer public policy certificates to Ph.D. students in a variety of disciplines, Deolalikar said.
“If a student has a public policy track in addition to their Ph.D. program, for example, if their dissertation is on the public policy aspect of environmental engineering, that opens a new set of career options,” he added.
Offering a Public Policy degree for medical students is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar. UCR is dedicated to educating the next generation of student in facets where the can make the biggest impact on the community and the world.
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