California Invests in Medical Scholars Program including a Pathway at UCSF Fresno

SJV-MedBridge students at orientation at UCSF Fresno

California Invests in Medical Scholars Program including a Pathway at UCSF Fresno to Help Address Growing Shortages in Health Care 

The State of California is working to strengthen pathways for students from community college to medical school  

UCSF Fresno's SJV-MedBridge is accepting applications from San Joaquin Valley Community College Students Now  

FRESNO – California recently made investments to help address physician shortages and regional health disparities through its new budget, including $2.8 million in ongoing annual funding appropriated for the California Medicine Scholars Program. Funds will be administered by the California Department of Healthcare Access and Information (HACI) and will help sustain and grow the California Medicine Scholars Program to improve access to medical care in regions of need.  

Established in 2022, the California Medicine Scholars Program welcomed its first cohort of 197 community college students in Spring 2023. Scholars are supported by four Regional Hubs of Healthcare Opportunitywhich include community colleges partnering with universities, medical schools, community health clinics and community-based organizations. The UCSF School of Medicine’s Regional Campus in Fresno (UCSF Fresno) is one of four hubs in California. Together, these institutions collaborate to strengthen pathways and provide pre-med opportunities for students through a range of advising, internship, and volunteer health care experiences.  

Today, almost 45% of Californians have insufficient access to a primary care physician. According to a survey released in February by the California Health Care Foundation and NORC at the University of Chicago, most Californians (85%) say that “making sure there are enough doctors, nurses, and other health care providers across California” should be an important priority for the state government to address. In addition, 42% of Black and Latino/x Californians say their community lacks adequate numbers of primary care providers—along with 53% of San Joaquin Valley residents and 48% of people living in the Inland Empire.  

“A diverse and culturally competent health workforce is essential to meeting the unique needs of our communities, specifically in rural areas where access to quality primary care is lacking. The California Medicine Scholars Program is proud to empower a new generation of students and enable them to embark on the path to medical school and, ultimately, serve as physicians in California,” said Rowena Robles, Executive Director of the California Medicine Scholars Program. “We extend our appreciation to the California Department of Health Care Access and Information for its commitment to strengthening the state’s health care workforce through programs like the California Medicine Scholars Program.”  

“We are grateful for the investment in strengthening pathways to increase the number of physicians practicing in California and build a physician workforce that reflects the state and the San Joaquin Valley,” said Emy Lopez Phillips, EdD, director of the UCSF Fresno Office of Health Career Pathways. “We recently expanded our pathway program to enhance support to students with an interest in medicine earlier in their community college journey. We also renamed our program to better reflect our mission and goals of serving as a bridge for San Joaquin Valley community college students to medical school. Now, called San Joaquin Valley-MedBridge (SJV-MedBridge), we look forward to accepting applications for our second cohort of students this fall.”  

Through the 2021-22 state budget, HCAI provided $10.5 million for the first three years of the California Medicine Scholars Program; the $2.8 million in annual funding included in the recently enacted 2023-2024 budget will also come from HCAI and help sustain the program to help California’s future doctors complete their educational journey from community colleges to medical school. The Foundation for California Community Colleges serves as the program’s Central Office, helping to leverage the power and diversity of the California Community Colleges. The California Endowment, California Wellness Foundation, and The California Health Care Foundation have also provided generous philanthropic funding.  

To learn more about how California aims to reduce health disparities for communities of color and the essential role the CMSP will play in helping to successfully meet California’s growing need for doctors, please visit: (Opens in a new window). 

To learn more about UCSF Fresno’s SJV-MedBridge and to apply, go to:

Applications for SJV-MedBridge opened Aug. 1, 2023 

For questions, please email: [email protected] 

About UCSF Fresno: UCSF Fresno is a regional campus of the UCSF School of Medicine and UCSF, the leading institution dedicated exclusively to the health sciences. Established in 1975, UCSF Fresno is focused on improving health in California’s San Joaquin Valley through excellence in teaching and patient care, innovative clinical research and community partnerships. UCSF Fresno is the largest academic physician-training program between San Francisco and Sacramento to the north and Los Angeles to the south. UCSF Fresno trains about 300 physicians and hundreds of rotating medical students including students in the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education each year. More than 600 UCSF core and volunteer faculty at UCSF Fresno care for thousands of patients annually and train the next generation of outstanding clinicians and patient advocates. Roughly 50 % of the physicians trained at UCSF Fresno stay in the Valley to provide UCSF care. In addition, UCSF Fresno helps prepare middle, high school and college students for careers in health and medicine through a variety of pathway programs. Please visit

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About UCSF: The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area. The UCSF School of Medicine also has a regional campus in Fresno.  

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