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Unique healthcare partnership in the Valley

San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) offers medical students from UC Merced, Davis and Fresno a chance to finish medical school locally.
(Megan Munro Reporting)

There is partnership to improve healthcare in the Central Valley.

San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) offers medical students from UC Merced, Davis and Fresno a chance to finish medical school locally, and in return, students promise to practice medicine in under served areas across the Valley.

Randell Rueda is one of five PRIME medical students. "It's a joint effort to bring physicians back to the San Joaquin Valley, especially because there's a shortage of primary care physicians and specialty physicians in our Valley," said Randell.

According to the Department of Health, 200 regions in the state don't have enough doctors and the most severe problem is here in the Central Valley. 

Dr. Kenny Banh, a professor at UCSF and UC Davis said, "Not only are we short on doctors but if you want to be a doctor today and you're from here we have a bit of a brain drain... you actually have to go off to another city, out of state to go to medical school." 

Medical student Sidra Suess said, "There are very few specialists and I really want be a part of that working environment to work towards defeating those disparities."

That could have a huge impact on health concerns specific to Valley. "You don't have to be a physician to know there is a lot of health disparities that happen to the Central Valley, whether it's obesity or sexually transmitted diseases...," said Dr. Banh. 

The program is funded by private donations and the Affordable Care Act.

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