Yesterday, Kaiser announced its intention to open a medical school in Southern California. Fresh from the press release, I mentioned the announcement to a friend. His reaction: "Would they actually name that school: Kaiser Permanente Medical School?'
I've been thinking about that question ever since. In the moment, my response was "why not?" or "why not Henry J. Kaiser Medical School?" but, afterwards, I thought he may have been tapping into some reserve over a "branded" medical school, one conspicuously designed to take the Kaiser care model to the source of physician training. But if a particular team primary care based approach is associated with the name, why not use it? After all, Kaiser Permanente's Allied School of Health Sciences in Richmond, California is named just that.
What of the idea that a medical school could be too closely aligned with one service delivery model and so tarnish its academic reputation in some way by taking that model as part of its name? Or, does it reek too much of grow your own talent in its explicit anticipation that Kaiser expects many of the students at its medical school to focus on primary care and go on to work with Kaiser?
The tricky part is that I am not certain existing medical school education does not involve the close alignment of a branded medical school with a particular care-delivery model associated with that school that then brings it back to the source: physician training. Does anyone really imagine that medical school training at, say Stanford Medical School, models health care delivered in a multi-site high-tech care-delivery system like Kaiser or is what is going on there more like the high-tech academic medical center ("AMC") model of care (though some of Stanford's medical students do seem interested in PC)?
Many have observed that the AMC model is probably not the ideal environment in which to cultivate community based primary care medical practitioners. Now, Kaiser appears poised to take this observation and turn it on its head: what would be the ideal environment in which to cultivate and train community based primary care physicians organized in a team delivery model serving one of the most diverse populations in the entire United States look like?
I can hardly wait to see what they propose.