Training The Next Generation Of Physicians, Health Advocates
Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, founding dean and chief executive officer, leads students from the school’s inaugural class on a tour of the simulation lab.

Training the next generation of physicians, health advocates

Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine welcomes its inaugural class

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine opened on July 27, as its inaugural class of 50 students began their journey to become outstanding clinicians and advocates for change within the medical profession and in society.

“All of us at the school are excited to welcome 50 phenomenal students who are compassionate, mission-driven, collaborative, and very smart, and are poised to become the next generation of leaders in medicine,” said Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, founding dean and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. “As our nation grapples with a devastating pandemic, long overdue attention to social injustice, and entrenched disparities in health and health care, we are excited to train students who will become outstanding clinicians and skilled advocates for patients and communities. I am thrilled about our incoming class as well as the faculty and staff who have come together to participate in their education.”

The school’s curriculum is built on the 3 pillars of biomedical science, clinical science, and health systems science. Students will learn in settings that range from the school’s technology-enhanced classrooms to hospitals, outpatient facilities, and community-based, federally qualified health centers. Equity, inclusion, and diversity are woven into all aspects of the school’s design, and student well-being is built into the school’s fiber with a dedicated course focused on building resilience skills; sessions with a clinical psychologist; and robust academic support. Last year, the school announced full tuition waivers for its first 5 classes entering 2020 through 2024, for all 4 years of their education.

Located in Pasadena, California — 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles — the school is centered in a modern, newly constructed 80,000-square foot, 4-story building designed for active learning, collaboration, and a technologically advanced education.

Plans for the school began more than a decade ago, and formal development was put in motion in 2015. After former Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals (KFHP/H) chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson unexpectedly passed away in November 2019, the school’s board renamed the school after him to honor his deep commitment to the school, and his tireless work on behalf of health equity and the health of communities.

“We proudly welcome the inaugural class to our innovative new medical school that reflects Kaiser Permanente’s deep commitment to providing high-quality, affordable health care and improving the health of our members and the communities we serve,” said Gregory Adams, chairman and CEO of KFHP/H. “I believe these students will be inspired by Bernard Tyson’s legacy as they gain the knowledge, skills, and passion to become future physician leaders and health equity advocates who will help our diverse communities thrive.”

Immersion in a groundbreaking integrated system

Students will be immersed in the clinic starting in week 3 of school as they learn from Permanente Medical Group physician preceptors and their care teams. Students will follow patients over time in longitudinal integrated clerkships spanning their first 2 years of medical school, in Kaiser Permanente’s groundbreaking integrated health care system, now in its 75th year, and one of the nation’s highest-performing health care organizations that excels in patient-centered care and population health.

“Integrating the students into our Kaiser Permanente care teams will provide them with an innovative learning environment and a unique platform to practice Permanente Medicine, which emphasizes patient-centered, equitable, compassionate, high-quality, evidence-based care,” said Edward Ellison, MD, executive medical director and chairman of the board, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and co-CEO of The Permanente Federation. “Our physicians and care teams look forward to welcoming the students and embracing, supporting, educating, and empowering the next generation of physicians as healers, change agents, and leaders.”

“The board is thrilled with the caliber and diversity of the student body matriculating to the school, and by the promise of these individuals to become the types of physicians that our country so ardently needs,” said Holly Humphrey, MD, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and chairperson of the school’s board of directors. “The confluence of these talented people and the school’s imaginative and forward-thinking curriculum will be exciting to experience.”

In the final lead-up to opening, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the school to be creative and adapt to the new environment. These adaptations included the need to recruit the first class of admitted students virtually, refine the curriculum to support a hybrid approach, with some parts taught in-person, following public health guidelines such as physical distancing and wearing masks, and other parts taught virtually, and implement strict health, safety, and facility cleaning standards. The school will integrate COVID-19 into its case-based curriculum by examining the biology of the virus itself, addressing clinical implications of COVID-19 as it presents, and integrating it into the context of racial and ethnic disparities, public health surveillance, vaccine development and delivery, and the impact of the economy on health.

Learn more about the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.