The program is a collaboration between U.C. Merced and U.C. Davis. The idea is to attract medical students who want to work here in the Valley. Officials say it's also a major milestone as this university works toward establishing its own med school.
Fresno native Randell Rueda is a senior at U.C. Merced who's working toward becoming a doctor. His goal is to one day practice medicine here in the Valley. "I want to a practicing physician here in the Central Valley because there is a disparity. Our community members here don't often get the health services they need and deserve, and I want to be able to provide that service."
And now students like Rueda have a new opportunity to get the medical training they need closer to home. It's called the U.C. Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education, or "PRIME." It's a collaboration between U.C. Merced and the U.C. Davis School of Medicine that includes hands on training in the Valley.
Dr. Meyers: "They'll do their first 2 years the majority on the U.C. Davis campus in Sacramento ... and the second 2 years, years 3 and 4 will be primarily spent at clinical training sites up and down the Valley, leading to an MD degree at the end of 4 years."
The clinical partners have not yet been announced, but Dr. Rob Streeter hopes to have the chance to work with some of those students at the New Mercy Medical Center in Merced. "As a physician practicing in Merced for almost 20 years this is very exciting to me, I enjoy teaching the residents we have here at Mercy and I look forward to having even more students so we can encourage them to continue to practice in our community."
The PRIME program is also considered an important step toward the goal of developing a U.C. Merced school of medicine by 2015.
"Knowing that a medical school is almost in our grasp, it makes me so much more excited to come back to U.C. Merced after my schooling and tell others that I was here before and I'm here now, and that's really exciting," said Rueda.
The new program will accept six students for next fall, and they don't have to be students here at U.C. Merced. Anyone who has a four year degree and meets other pre-med requirements is eligible.