San Diego County is one of the most populated counties in the United States with over 3.1 million residents. With growth projections of up to 4 million by 2050, San Diego County will continue to be a socially and ethnically diverse community. For example, not only will the number of older adults and seniors (65+) nearly double, but Hispanic and Asian individuals will collectively account for over 60% of the population. Additionally, the healthcare industry is anticipated to grow significantly in California, with close to 39,000 jobs being added in San Diego County alone by 2020. Further, the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 has stimulated significant changes in the number of individuals with health insurance as well as the overall system of service delivery. In particular, greater significance has been placed on innovation and efficiency with regards to team and integrated care models; an increase in the number of primary care practices; and availability of managed care insurance options. With this changing healthcare landscape comes a growing need for professionals across a broad range of healthcare professions who are trained in cultural competence and prepared to serve with knowledge, compassion and empathy.
Founded in 2014 under the Rady Children’s Center for Healthier Communities Youth Development priority area, SMA was established and continues to serve as a fundraiser for CHC’s FACES for the Future-San Diego program. FACES is a school based comprehensive health careers pathway program that prepares socio-economically diverse high school students in City Heights for careers that offer livable wages and upward mobility. SMA was established in collaboration the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Over the years, program has grown from 36 applicants/enrolled students in 2014, to 150 applicants and 84 enrolled students in 2020, with a total of 334 alumni. As a result of student and community interest, the Medical Academy expanded to enable high school students throughout the San Diego region and beyond to participate in once-in-a-lifetime programs. Learn more about Rady Children’s Center for Healthier Communities here.