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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

UC Davis medical students train in Central Valley

Third-year medical students in the REACH program relocate in an effort to eliminate healthcare inequities

By ISABELLA KRZESNIAK campus@theaggie.org


Seven UC Davis medical students part of the Reimagining Education to Advance central California Health (REACH) program relocated to the Central Valley for the 2021-2022 school year. The program encourages medical students to practice in the Central Valley in order to make up for inequities in healthcare.

It’s extremely important for UC Davis to continue that commitment to the communities of the Central Valley because we have a significant responsibility to train the future physicians who are eager to address the inequities in distribution of care,” said Alicia Gonzalez-Flores, a UC Davis internal medicine physician. 

REACH requires that students gain clinical experience in the Central Valley during their third year of medical school. Gerardo Tellez, a third-year medical student part of the REACH program, is one of the seven individuals who relocated. Like many of his peers, he is originally from the Central Valley.

“Our training is in the Central Valley and a lot of  us are familiar with this population and the patients,” Tellez said. “Being able to train here with clinicians who are here helps patients connect with us, and the patients are actually educating us on what a good clinician is.” 

The students work with Kaiser Permanente physicians who share the intention of bridging inequities in healthcare.

“Kaiser Permanente has been a long-standing partner in medical education at UC Davis,” Gonzalez-Flores said. “When students are trained at the largest integrated health system in California, they benefit from the skills, insight, tools and expertise needed to provide their future patients with the care they deserve.”

According to the California Health Care Foundation, there is a shortage of physicians in the San Joaquin Valley despite recruitment incentives, and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these existing issues.

“The Central Valley, that’s one of the most difficult places to recruit physicians because when you have places like S.F. and L.A. so close by,” Tellez said. “The allure to go to one of these places is really high.”

The clinical training that these students receive in the area encourages physician retention, according to Tellez.

“The Central Valley doesn’t have enough training facilities to meet the demands, but the need [is there],” Tellez said. “The solution is training your own. People who are from the Central Valley, the likelihood of them staying is a lot higher.”

As someone from the area, Tellez believes that he is able to have a greater, positive impact on his patients.

“As I am doing my training, I’m seeing patients that look like my family, that look like me, and I’m not just talking about ethnicity — I’m talking about educational background and the life experience I had growing up,” Tellez said. “Being able to connect with these patients creates a different type of bond because you’re not just an outsider coming in.”


Written by: Isabella Krzesniak — campus@theaggie.org




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