Kaiser Permanente grant to place UC Denver students in rural communities

By Staff

Mark Deutchman

More medical, dental and pharmacy graduates from the University of Colorado Denver will soon be able to share their skills with Colorado's rural communities thanks to a $2.4 million grant from Kaiser Permanente.

The gift will establish the UC Denver Interdisciplinary Rural Training and Service Program, or IRTS. The program aims to train health care professionals willing to practice in underserved rural communities across the state.

Mark Deutchman, MD, a professor of family medicine at UC Denver, will lead the IRTS, and the Colorado Area Health Education Center, or AHEC, will serve as the administrator and evaluator of the program.

According to state medical experts, a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists practicing in many rural communities can cause people to forgo preventive care or treatment for serious illnesses.

"Colorado is largely a rural state and many of our rural counties are facing significant shortages in health care professionals living and working in their communities," said Ned Calonge, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"This innovative partnership will help address these shortages by supporting the recruitment and retention of new health profession graduates in currently underserved communities," he said.

UC Denver, the CU Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and the state of Colorado announced the gift earlier this month.

Administrators said IRTS would build upon successful but independent programs in the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine and the School of Pharmacy.