10 things to know about Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine

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Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente will open a medical school in fall 2019, a strategic move CEO Bernard Tyson calls a "natural evolution."

Although the development process is in early stages, the Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit health system has already outlined a few major details and philosophies behind the plan.

Here are 10 things to know about the health system and its Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine.

1. A few major logistics about the medical school have been released. The medical school will open in the fall of 2019 with a class of 48 students, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kaiser said tuition will be comparable to and competitive with other medical schools, according to the Los Angeles Times.

2. Other details have not been negotiated. Kaiser Permanente has not said how much the school will cost. Although the school will be somewhere in Southern California, Kaiser is still determining a final location for the school, as well as the campus size..

3. Leadership for the school is yet to be determined. One of the medical school's top priorities for 2016 is to recruit a dean. However, some leaders have already announced their involvement in the school. Christine Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, will leave her post March 1 to join the leadership team designing the medical school.

4. A nonprofit health system planning a medical school is rare. The majority of the medical schools in the United States are affiliated with universities rather than health systems. "There are precedents, but this will be different," said John Prescott, MD, chief academic officer for the American Association of Medical Colleges. "It's an integrated healthcare system that's looking at developing a medical school. I think there will be some surprises as the school unfolds."

5. Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson spoke out about the endeavor to build the school. "This is a natural evolution for us," he said. "We are very motivated in being part of the transformation of the entire healthcare ecosystem."

6. Kaiser already works with medical school students. Currently, 600 physicians are finishing their residency programs at Kaiser Permanente. Annually, thousands of others complete part of their medical training at Kaiser.

7. The school will capitalize off Kaiser's existing diversity efforts. The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine hopes to recruit more minority students "to better reflect the communities we serve," according to Edward Ellison, MD, executive medical director of Southern California Permanente Medical Group. "We anticipate them going out into the communities and spending time with patients in the communities from which they come," he added.

8. Like other medical schools across the nation, the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will strive to change traditional medical education. In addition to focusing on research, Kaiser's medical school will include more real-world, hands-on experience for students. This effort, which is being adopted by medical schools throughout the nation, will be built around two years of science followed by two years of clinical work. "The physician will not be sitting in a lecture hall like I did," said Dr. Ellison. "It's taking a different approach, turning the model almost upside down."

9. The decision has been met with some skepticism. Establishing a medical school is "fraught with risk" and could be a "huge waste of money" if the school turns into a specialty-focused academic medical center, according to John Deane, president of the Advisory Board Consulting and Management. "On the other hand, they have an opportunity to do this in a new and different way that could be a form of disruptive innovation that could become a new standard for teaching doctors."

10. Kaiser Permanente by the numbers. Kaiser — whose annual revenue last year was $56.4 billion — has approximately 10.2 million members, 80 percent of whom are in California. The nonprofit health system runs 38 hospitals, owns hundreds of clinics and has almost 18,000 physicians on salary. It operates in eight states and the District of Columbia.

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