SJV MedBridge and Local Community Colleges Support Students Toward Becoming Physicians

Community college students in the San Joaquin Valley have the unique opportunity to participate in hands-on activities at the UCSF Fresno Clinical Skills and Simulation Center. Students say it’s a perk of being enrolled in the San Joaquin Valley MedBridge Program and is
invaluable to their education.

The San Joaquin Valley - MedBridge Program (SJV-MedBridge) was developed by UCSF Fresno, in partnership with Fresno State, community colleges in the San Joaquin Valley, California Health Sciences University, and multiple medical education programs and launched in the fall of 2023. The program was made possible through Senate Bill 40, which was proposed by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, (then D-14) in 2021. A native of Sanger, Sen. Hurtado (SD 16) helped fund the establishment of the California Medicine Scholars Program, which is administered by the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

The SJV-MedBridge program aims to develop an outreach-focused program to connect community college students in the San Joaquin Valley to the resources, avenues, and mentors that will help them reach their goals and further allow them to explore the world of medicine.

Currently in its first year, the program has enrolled two cohorts for a total of 102 community college students from across eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley.

“It’s great. Honestly, this is probably the best thing that has happened to me because I’ve never been this close to where I want to be and being with a school like UCSF that is highly recognized is amazing,” said Malik Evans, a Fresno City College student who is working toward becoming a neurosurgeon. “Being able to see that I can come back to Fresno and have the opportunity to be at the University of California, San Francisco while serving my community is the best thing for me.”

Evans is enrolled in the program’s first cohort and is taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with UCSF Fresno staff and meet other students who are on the same path toward health care careers.

SJV-MedBridge aims to extend and highlight access to various workshops related to medicine and support transfer efforts from community colleges to a four-year institution, encourage and provide networking opportunities to and with experts in the premedical community while fostering a community-focused environment for individuals with a shared interest and passion for medicine.

“We try to eliminate as many barriers as possible to get into SJV-MedBridge,” said Sydney Farnesi, program supervisor. “Qualifications include interest in medicine, a completion of 12 units in community college within the San Joaquin Valley and students should not have a previous bachelor’s degree.”

Each month, students participate in a virtual session and an in-person offering including a simulation day at UCSF Fresno where they learn about CPR, wound care and ultrasound. In February, seven community college students were on campus exploring hands-on opportunities.

“I think hands-on is what is a foundation for getting the best education you can. It’s a lot different than sitting through a lecture having to retain that information,” said Isabella Alvarez, a Clovis Community College student.

Alvarez wants to pursue a medical career and hopes SJV-MedBridge will help her decide in which capacity. “With the hands-on experience you can really get to know if this is something you really want to do.”

The goal for SJV-MedBridge is to enroll 50 students each year. Current community college students in the San Joaquin Valley who are driven and seek opportunities to advance into the medical field with a goal of becoming a physician are encouraged to apply to the program. Applications for the next cohort will open in the Summer of 2024.

“If you’re interested, this is a great opportunity to get access and resources as well as plenty of connections to other students that are all on the same journey.” said Farnesi. “We’re really passionate about building that network and creating that cohort sense of belonging in this journey.


Part of Newsletter: Focus on UCSF Fresno Spring 2024