Over the summer, UC Merced took a major step in establishing a medical school.
Last September, the sister campuses, UC Davis and UC Merced, announced a partnership to begin educating medical students in the valley.
On July 19th, UC Merced and the UC Davis School of Medicine announced the five pioneering students who are currently enrolled in the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME).
Chancellor Dorothy Leland is delighted to welcome these students.
“In 2005, UC Merced welcomed its inaugural class of undergraduate students,” Leland said. “In 2011, we welcome our first class in the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education. I am particularly pleased that one of my first acts as chancellor is to announce these exceptional students.”
Further, "The San Joaquin Valley-PRIME represents the University of California's efforts to expand medical education and train physicians who will care for residents in underserved parts of the state, including our valley. In addition, it is one component of UC Merced's multifaceted approach to researching and addressing complex human health issues."
In Fall 2010, approximately 150 students submitted applications to the UC Davis School of Medicine for Fall 2011 enrollment in PRIME. The admissions committee consisted of faculty members and other representatives from UC Merced, UC Davis School of Medicine, and UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program.
To be considered for admission, applicants needed to meet UC Davis School of Medicine admissions requirements as well as the admissions requirements of PRIME. Additionally, applicants needed to possess significant knowledge of the San Joaquin Valley, be familiar with underserved populations, understand the healthcare challenges of Valley residents, and possess the desire to practice medicine in the Valley.
Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship. A five million donation from the United Health Foundation is helping to fund the program.
Currently, students are at UC Davis and will remain there for the first two years of the program. At this time, they are assigned to research and other educational projects in the Central Valley. In the third and fourth years, the students will perform clinical rotations in the Valley.
Recent UC Merced alumnus, Randell Rueda, is now a PRIME student and very eager to practice in the San Joaquin Valley.
“I feel emotionally centered and rooted to the SJV now that I have lived here for most of my adult life. I want to come back and be able to help our community make a difference for our overall well-being,” Rueda said.
Rueda recognizes a major issue in the healthcare system of California. “I have been able to see the stark differences in medical care evident between two not-so-distant counties within California. There is no reason for this disparity to exist.”
Though he is aware that he cannot bring change by himself, he knows he must make an effort. “I would only be a small part of the solution, but taking the first steps to become part of the solution for the health disparities of our area is the most important step.”