Former Molina CEO named Calif. medical school dean

Dr. J. Mario Molina, the former CEO of Medicaid managed care insurer Molina Healthcare, has been named the founding dean of Claremont, Calif.-based Keck Graduate Institute’s new school of medicine.

Though it will be several years before the KGI School of Medicine opens its doors to its first class of students, Molina already has big plans to transform medical education to focus on team-based learning while bringing healthcare policy and economics into the curriculum.

“Medical schools have for years relied on big lectures, and healthcare is delivered now in a team setting,” Molina said in an interview. “Moving to more of a team-based and problem-oriented learning, which is what KGI has been doing, lends itself to where medical education needs to go in the future.”

Molina also said he hopes the school will help address the looming physician shortage in California. A 2017 report by the University of California, San Francisco, projected that the state’s supply of primary care doctors will decrease between 8% and 25% by 2030 as not enough physicians complete residency programs to replace those who retire.

Keck Graduate Insititute first announced plans to create a medical school in July 2018. The KGI School of Medicine intends to equip its students with skills needed to work in the diverse communities within Southern California.

Molina—a physician by trade—was CEO of Long Beach, Calif.-based health insurer Molina Healthcare for 20 years before the board of directors removed him and his CFO brother John Molina from their posts, citing financial performance.

After that, Molina bought more than a dozen California medical clinics that the health insurer was planning to close and rebranded them as Golden Shore Medical. But the clinics officially shuttered in late January 2019 after struggling to secure a contract with Molina Healthcare.

Molina said he was on the search committee to find the KGI School of Medicine a dean. When the initial search came up empty, he threw his hat into the ring. Before the school can start accepting students, it must go through the accreditation process, build the curriculum and hire faculty, which will take several years, Molina said.

“There are lots of schools out there that are doing biomedical research…but I think the things we can emphasize are healthcare policy, healthcare economics and the other thing I’d like to see us do is focus on medical education,” he said. “Not a lot of schools are placing an emphasis on (figuring out) what is the best way to teach students.”