|A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc
Photo: Stephanie Diani
Whether by overseeing the residency programs at two of Los Angeles County’s major public hospitals, supporting student-directed mobile clinics and health fairs, providing staff for the Venice Family Clinic — the largest free clinic in the United States — or spearheading research projects under our Clinical and Translational Science Institute with the aim of erasing healthcare disparities in one of this nation’s most demographically diverse urban areas, UCLA Health Sciences has been an essential part of the fabric of Greater Los Angeles for decades. But in 2011, as we developed our strategic plan, we determined that community engagement needed to be elevated to one of our core missions along with education, research and clinical care.
For UCLA Health Sciences, community engagement means improving health through solutions that address social, cultural and biological determinants, developing a comprehensive and diverse healthcare workforce and creating innovative healthcare-delivery models that maintain financial stability while serving all members of our community. A committee we launched to implement the community-engagement strategic plan already has made significant progress. After surveying more than 9,000 faculty and staff in the DGSOM, the UCLA School of Dentistry, the UCLA School of Nursing and clinical programs on campus, along with partners across Los Angeles County, we have the start on what in the next few months will become a bi-directional searchable database for all of our community-partnered programs and research projects.
Two other key initiatives are just getting underway. With our human-resource colleagues, we have developed a health-workforce toolkit to help guidance counselors, high-school administrators and Parent-Teacher Associations to get students excited about careers in healthcare. We successfully piloted the program at King Drew Magnet High School with more than 1,200 students, and we expect to reach more than 20,000 students in Los Angeles over the next 12 months as we expand our efforts. The other project is a new competition that will provide funding to community-academic-partnered projects that can make a meaningful difference in the health of our community. This regional competition will provide financial rewards to the most-innovative community-partnered projects with the highest likelihood of improving health in Los Angeles.
I heartily applaud our faculty, staff and students who are embracing the opportunity and obligation to venture beyond the confines of the campus to optimize health through community partnership. In collaboration with a diverse group of partners, they are indeed harnessing the many assets of UCLA to improve the health of the people we serve.
A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Gerald S. Levey, MD, Endowed Chair
To learn more about community engagement at UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,
go to: community.medschool.ucla.edu