Advancing health in the San Joaquin Valley has been a great concern for many people, particularly those who live there and experience the need for better care. Access to care, due in part to a lack of practicing physicians in the region, is part of the problem. UC Merced, in a joint partnership with UC Davis and UCSF-Fresno, established the San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) several years ago in an effort to educate and encourage medical students to deliver care in the Valley.

The San Joaquin Valley PRIME came one step closer toward addressing the need for better access to care by welcoming the new cohort of students. I’d like to welcome the second cohort of 6 students, who join the first group, affectionately called the Valley Five:

  • Fabian Alberto from Soledad
  • Karina Martinez Juarez from Ceres
  • Filmon Mehanzel from Tracy
  • Kristine Ongaigui from Fresno
  • Maricela Rangel-Garcia from Clovis
  • Katy Ruch from Fresno

These students will begin their medical education at UC Davis and complete year 3 at UCSF –Fresno. As we hold our Induction Ceremony (also called the White Coat Ceremony) this weekend, I will welcome these students and their classmates with Vice Chancellor and Dean Claire Pomeroy and all our faculty.

You can read more about this second class in the press release. As I’m quoted in the press release as saying, this class reflects the realization of the missions of PRIME, educating a diverse, professional work force who can serve the communities of California and improve both health care and population health. These students could have chosen many other medical schools. We are proud to have attracted such a fine group who are committed to our program’s success. We are confident that they, like the Valley 5, will make lasting contributions to the long-term success of the program.