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UC Merced medical education efforts move forward

By Alec Rosenberg at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/24090

As UC Merced enters its sixth year, the campus is taking incremental — and innovative — steps toward a medical school.

UC PRIME trains doctors for the underserved throughout California

UC Merced release

UC Merced announced today (Sept. 15) that it has formed a partnership with the UC Davis School of Medicine to begin training medical students in the San Joaquin Valley. The UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME), will launch with six students in fall 2011 — two years ahead of schedule, officials told UC Regents at their meeting in San Francisco.

“This is such an innovative way to approach a problem and such a collaborative way,” Regent Sherry Lansing said.

PRIME trains doctors to serve in California’s underserved communities. The San Joaquin Valley is the state’s most medically underserved region, said Dr. Fred Meyers, executive director of medical education and academic planning at UC Merced. Building on the campus’ other health sciences efforts, the new PRIME program represents an important step toward a medical school at UC Merced, he said.

“This is really an incremental approach,” said Meyers, who also is executive associate dean at the UC Davis School of Medicine. “Our ultimate goal is to improve the health of the San Joaquin Valley.”

The Valley Coalition for a UC Merced Medical School, which issued a report in July supporting a medical school at UC Merced, applauded the launch of UC’s sixth PRIME program.

“We feel this is a significant step toward the beginnings of a medical school,” said Bryn Forhan, chair of the 1,000-member coalition of health care officials, business and community leaders and elected officials from throughout the Valley. “We’re energized by the collaborative approach UC and UC Merced have used. The Valley has spoken. The University of California has listened.”

Regent George Marcus and Faculty Representative to the Regents Dan Simmons did caution against moving too fast in establishing a medical school at UC Merced. It’s important for the campus to first build up its biological sciences infrastructure, faculty and facilities, Simmons said.

“We have heard you,” UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang said. “We are moving along that way.”

UC Merced has continued to develop its core academic and research programs, including the Health Sciences Research Institute, Valley Telehealth Project and the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health Disparities in Rural and Ethnic Underserved Populations.

UC Merced San Joaquin Valley PRIME will be a collaboration involving UC Davis, UC Merced, UCSF Fresno and local clinics and others.

“This is a terrific example of what we can do when we leverage resources of the UC system,” said Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

Alec Rosenberg is the health communications coordinator in the UC Office of the President’s Integrated Communications group. For more information, visit the UC Newsroom or follow us on Twitter.

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Filed under: New Schools

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