UC Board of Regents Supports Creating New Merced Medical School
On Wednesday, University of California's Board of Regents unanimously approved University of California-Merced officials' ongoing plan to establish a medical school, the Merced Sun-Star/Modesto Bee reports.
UC-Merced officials and supporters of the school said a shortage of physicians in the San Joaquin Valley is driving the push for a new medical school. The Valley has 24% fewer primary care physicians and 51% fewer specialists than the rest of the state, according to a UC-Merced report.
University officials said their next steps in developing the school will be establishing an office to focus on planning efforts, developing a curriculum and planning for infrastructure.
Officials expect the first year of planning to cost about $2 million, which will be funded by a donation from the United Health Foundation. Between 2009 and 2011, officials estimate the costs will be about $7 million, of which about $2 million will be provided by the foundation.
Experts from UC-San Francisco, UCSF-Fresno and UC-Davis have participated in the planning efforts. The model for the medical school includes partnerships with regional hospitals and clinics.
UC Merced officials expect the medical school to be operational by 2013, with an initial enrollment of 32 students and a projected future enrollment of 384 students.
Maria Pallavicini, UC Merced's dean of natural sciences, said university officials are expected to return to the Board of Regents in 12 to 15 months with a final draft proposal for the medical school (Patton, Merced Sun-Star/Modesto Bee, 5/15).
The creation of a medical school at UC-Merced "is a long-range project that will be a huge challenge, but it's clear the mission is undeniably justified," according to an editorial in the Fresno Bee.
"Having a medical school in the Valley would help alleviate that costly and sometimes dangerous situation" of a critical shortage of physicians, the editorial states.
The editorial adds that UCSF's "residency program in Fresno suggests that a significant fraction of those doctors trained here would choose to stay" (Fresno Bee, 5/15).