February 7, 2023

Behold! A brand-new medical school!

By John Guy LaPlante

This is big news and I will tell you why.

It is the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J.Tyson School of Medicine.

It’s in a brand-new 4-story building in Pasadena, CA.

Its first students will be starting classes in just a few weeks.

For sure everybody involved is hoping that the Covid-19 pandemic will not slow things down.

Now here is why this is big news. Bear with me for a minute or two.

We have had medical schools ever since we have been educating doctors.

0ur medical schools date way, way back.

They came into being for the best of reasons. To train and graduate doctors who were truly skilled in their work.

This in accordance of course with what back then the professors thought a good medical education should entail.

It’s a fact that all the medical schools had basically the same curriculum.

So, regardless of what school they graduated from, the doctors being turned out had gone through similar training.

That is true to this day. There is great conformity in our medical education system.

Now here’s a surprise for you. I, yours truly, have personal understanding of this.

I was a pre-medical student in my first two years of college. I was planning to become an M.D.

Yes, sir. This was at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

I hadn’t yet started the specialized pre-med studies. But I knew what training I would have to go through to become an M.D.

And I even knew what medical school I would go to — Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C. Assumption had a solid connection with the admissions office at Georgetown.

My roommate Gilbert Bellerose, also in pre-med, went to Georgetown to become a dentist.

Here were the first steps I would take to eventually become a doctor.

In my third and fourth years at Assumption, in addition to ongoing liberal arts classes — literature, history, economics, whatever — I would also study physics, chemistry, general anatomy and such.

I would graduate in June and report to medical school in September.

The first two years of med school would be basic courses that all students would take. The second two years would be brief immersions in various specialties. You know, checking them out — to let us think out whether we wanted to be a primary care doctor, say, or a general surgeon, or an anesthesiologist or obstetrician or cardiologist or psychiatrist or rheumatologist, or other specialist. There are many specialties.

Finally graduation and State licensing. Then getting accepted by a hospital somewhere to begin two years as interns. Our third and fourth years would be training in the specific medical or surgical choice each of us had decided on. An important decision. That’s what we would practice until we retired decades later.

Well, I never started that long technical program.

I found out that I liked other types of courses better –yes, liberal arts, so called. And especially that I liked to write. In fact, I was chosen to be the editor of our small college paper. Which I found exciting. And would you believe, which got me launched in my life’s work. And as you know, I’m still at it.

Anyway, the program that I would have been in at Georgetown Med would have been quite similar to the programs in our other medical schools.

We now have 141 medical schools.

And we have 750,000 practicing MDs.

Additionally, we have 35 osteopathic medical schools.

Why do I mention this? Well, osteopathy has come a long way. We have 50,000 DOs — osteopathic physicians.

Licensing authorities consider graduates of both types of schools equal.

It’s not unusual to have hospitals with both MDs and DOs on the staff.

Now here is the whole point of why I am writing about this for you today.

Remember, I entitled this, “Behold, a brand-new type of medical school!”

And how!

This brand-new medical school has been completely re-thought from A to Z. Numerous major improvements have made it unique.

I read about the school in the recent July 6 – 13 issue of TIME magazine. A full-page ad about it caught my eye.

It had a cute illustration –a young woman doctor letting a cute little tot play with her stethoscope.

And a short headline: “The Future of Healthcare.”

I’m interested in the future of healthcare. That lured me in.

The school has a long name — The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

The ad takes the rest of the page — which is totally filled with words jammed into long, dense paragraphs — to tell us how its Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine sees the future of healthcare education in our country.

I had no idea who Bernard J. Tyson was. I was astonished when I finally found out.

I started reading. I was hooked. I read that whole ad right down to its final period.

I liked everything I read. I found it exciting.

Unfortunately there is no way I can explain all that for you here.

But if you are intrigued as I was, I will have a great tip for you at the bottom of this write-up. Be patient.

Now to better understand why this is so newsworthy, you must know one thing. A medical education is very long and very expensive. Many students go into massive debt to get through it.

The consequence? Often when they graduate they are so deep in debt that they don’t consider what they would really like to do as doctors.

They have found out that some specialties pay far more than others. So often they choose a specialty because it’s going to pay them most $$$ right off and get them out of debt fastest.

But the planners of the new school came up with a creative solution. Hard to believe how clever. So simple.

It’s getting started with 40 students in its first class. The incoming classes will get larger for the next few years.

Well, the school will waive all tuition and fees for all students starting in the next five years! All free!

And what’s wonderful, this will make it far easier for them to choose a specialty that they feel they will enjoy for the long haul. Which would have been out of the question otherwise.

To repeat, the ad I was reading had thousands of words. I was fascinated. I thought you, too, would be fascinated.

What to do? That long name of the new school has three components. I decided I’d explain each of the three. That would be more effective.

Kaiser Permanente

Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente.

is a huge consortium of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. It operates in eight states and the District of Columbia.

In 2018 it had revenues of 80 billion dollars. And a net income of $25 billion dollars, imagine that.

It operates 39 hospitals and 700 medical offices. It employs some 63,000 nurses and 20,000 physicians. Has 305,000 employees. And 12 million members. Could be you are one of them.

In one word Kaiser Permanente is a Colossus.

Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

I told you I was fascinated when I found out about Mr. Tyson.

He died just recently. Was found dead in bed. He was only 60.

He was born in Vallejo, CA, the son of a carpenter / pastor and a homemaker.

He graduated from Golden Gate University in San Francisco with a BA, then an MBA. And got a job in the medical records department of Kaiser Permanente.

And worked his way up to the very top. Including running one of its larger hospitals. Then a group of hospitals.

He put in 30 years.

When he died, he was the chairman and CEO of the whole huge enterprise. The biggest in the world.

What astonished me is that he was a black man. I believe that would astonish anybody.

Imagine the competition he faced working his way up that long, long ladder.

He once said that when he was out and about and seen as just a well-dressed black man — and not as a high corporate executive — more than once he experienced what it was like to be a black man. So sad.

Interested in learning more about this remarkable med school?

Well, here’s the tip I promised you.

Go to Google. Put in the full name of the school –The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

Check it out. You will find yourself in an amazing tutorial.

You will marvel to see how every aspect of the school will be described for you.

Do it even just for its entertainment value.

Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe you, yes, you, would like to apply to become a student.

They say they’re interested in students with wide-ranging backgrounds.

And maybe you know somebody you think might be open to the idea. Suggest it.

It’s a golden opportunity.

History is being made!

If I were 22 again, I might give it serious thought. Not to become a practicing MD. No, no. To become an MD writer. Sounds interesting.


  1. Joan Perrone says

    This is a great idea! I wish them well. How wonderful to graduate without a ton of money to repay for student loans. We were patients of Kaiser Permanente before they left the State of Connecticut. We were always very happy with their service. Good luck with this very ambitious venture.

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