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UC Assesses California's Current and Future Health Care Needs

March 16, 2005

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The University of California today (March 16) released findings from its comprehensive assessment of California's short- and long-term health-care work force needs. The report addresses the state's changing demographics, statewide shortages of health providers, and the need for more ethnically diverse and culturally and linguistically competent health-care professionals.

Key findings in the report include:

  • California's population is growing, aging and increasing in diversity:

    • Already the most populous state in the nation, California is expected to grow at nearly twice the national average by 2025;

    • California's elderly population will grow at more than twice the rate of the state's total population within the same period;

    • By 2015, more than half the state's population will be of Latino or Asian descent;

    • It's expected that the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) and Central Valley regions will have population increases of 47.3 percent and 38.5 percent, respectively, by 2015.

  • Statewide shortages of health providers exist in several major health professions and current regional shortages of health providers will become more serious without effective intervention:

    • California will face a 15.9 percent shortage of physicians by 2015;

    • California ranks 49th in the number of nurses per capita and predictions indicate a shortfall of 60,000 RNs by 2020;

    • California ranks 48th in the nation in the number of pharmacists per capita and 49th in the number of veterinarians;

    • There is a steady need for practicing dentists and optometrists.

  • California's health work force does not reflect the diversity of the state's population:

    • Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans are significantly underrepresented among students, faculty and health care providers.

  • Growth in UC health professions programs is necessary to help address the needs of California's residents.

In response to a request from former UC President Richard C. Atkinson, and as part of the university's long-range planning process commissioned by UC President Robert C. Dynes, Michael V. Drake, UC's vice president for health affairs, initiated the analysis, which aims to define the state's current and future health-care work force needs and is intended to help guide decision making and enrollment planning in the University of California's health professions training programs in the next 10 to 15 years.

UCs systemwide Health Sciences Committee, a longstanding sub-committee of the Academic Planning Council, recently completed the more than two-year grant-funded assessment of the state's health-care work force in the seven major health sciences professions in which UC offers education and training: dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, optometry, and veterinary medicine. The review encompasses the most comprehensive health sciences planning effort undertaken by UC in a generation.

Findings from the assessment have been compiled into a summary report and were presented by Drake to the UC Board of Regents' Committee on Educational Policy during its meeting this week at UCLA.

  • The release of the findings marks the first step in a process that will consider many factors when planning the scope, size and location of future UC health sciences training, as well as those for other UC graduate and professional schools.

  • The Health Sciences Committee report will now be forwarded to UC's Academic Planning Council, and to the newly appointed University of California Long-Range Guidance Team, which will begin intensive long-range planning for the university system this spring. The Health Sciences Committee report will be one of several sources of information that this senior-level committee will consider.

The University of California plays a critical role in providing health care to Californians and training health-care professionals in the state. It is the fifth largest health care delivery system in California.

  • The university operates the largest health sciences instructional program in the nation, annually enrolling more than 13,000 students in 15 schools on seven UC campuses. These include five schools of medicine and four smaller medical education programs (in Berkeley, Fresno, Riverside and at the Drew University of Medicine and Sciences in Los Angeles); two schools each of dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and public health; and one school each of optometry and veterinary medicine.

Copies of the summary report, University of California Health Sciences Education: Work Force Needs and Enrollment Planning, will be available at:


Brandy Ramos Nikaido (559) 241-7512
Cathryn Nation (510) 987-9705