University officials and a coalition of community supporters have been pushing for the med school to deal with an increasing shortage of doctors and specialists in the Central Valley.
Dr. David Araujo/Mercy Medical Center Merced: "Some studies show we could use at least 50 percent more specialists than we currently have and 30 percent more primary care physicians.
Administrators also say more doctor's means more money for the local economy. Right now Valley residents spend about 845 million dollars a year on medical services in other parts of the state.
Ana Shaw: "If that money stays here, it's obviously and economic boom to our region. Also, with a medical school here, it helps provide the impetus for biomedical research and potentially start-up companies and a whole new kind of economic activity in our area."
The goal is to create a program that will allow students to study on campus for the first two years, then train at existing hospitals and clinics around the region. Junior Maxine Umeh is a biology major who once considered going to med school. She believes the program would help bring more students to the young campus.
Maxine Umeh/U.C. Merced Junior: "I think it will be good for U.C. Merced to be able to have biology students transfer straight into the med school instead of transferring to Davis or something, just an easy transition for students."
The Regents' approval means the university can now establish a med school planning office, develop curriculum, and prepare a full proposal and business plan that will be ready for approval next year.