The first cohort of students who will enroll this fall in the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education, or PRIME, are now on campus.
The students will begin a weeklong orientation in the Valley, which will consist of team-building exercises and shadowing physicians.
School officials say about 150 students applied to the program. A committee reviewed the applications and offered admission to five students.
Students will spend the first two years at UC Davis and will be conducting research projects in the Valley. They will then spend their third and fourth years conducting clinical rotations.
UC Merced and the UC Davis School of Medicine announced their partnership in September to begin educating medical students in the Valley.
A gift from the United Health Foundation is helping to fund the new program.
Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship thanks to contributions from Children's Hospital Central California, Community Medical Centers and Bryn Forhan -- co-chair of the Valley Coalition for UC Merced Medical School.
Randell Rueda, a UC Merced graduate, is among the students participating in the program.
"I was born and raised in San Jose and moved to Fresno in 2001," Rueda said. "I want to give back to the region that I have called home for more than a decade and the region that I plan to call home for the rest of my life. I would like to complete residency training in internal medicine and sub-specialize in infectious disease, one of the many health problems facing people in the Valley."
Applications for admission to the program for Fall 2012 are being accepted now. You can click here for more information.
You can also learn more about PRIME by clicking here.