UCSF Fresno Celebrates New Residents, Including Three SJV PRIME Students

On March 15, graduating San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME) medical students and medical students across the nation, simultaneously opened envelopes that revealed where they will spend the next several years conducting the postgraduate training necessary to practice medicine in the United States. The event is called Match Day and occurs every year in March.

“Match Day is a rite of passage for medical school graduates as they learn where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives living, working and caring for patients and fine tuning the skills necessary to be excellent patient care providers and advocates,” said Michael W. Peterson, MD, associate dean at UCSF Fresno.

Five UC Davis SJV PRIME students who are currently training at UCSF Fresno pursued residency programs in this year’s Match. The students include:

  • Monique Atwal, from Selma and a graduate of the UCSF Fresno Sunnyside High School Doctors Academy and UCLA, matched with UCSF Fresno in psychiatry. 
  • Kenneth Job, from Fresno and a graduate of Buchanan High School and UC Davis, matched with Long Beach Medical Center in family medicine.
  • Neetu Malhi, from Fresno and a graduate of Central High School’s East Campus and Fresno State, matched with UCSF Fresno in internal medicine.
  • Stephanie Melchor, who is from Visalia and a graduate of El Diamante High School and UCLA, matched with Stanford University Medical Center in obstetrics and gynecology.
  • Kristine “KC” Ongaigui, from Fresno, an alumna of the UCSF Fresno Summer Biomedical Internship Program and Stanford graduate, matched with UCSF Fresno in pediatrics.

“An aim of SJV PRIME is to train physicians for our underserved region and to increase the diversity of the physician workforce,” said Kenny Banh, MD, assistant dean for undergraduate medical education at UCSF Fresno. “These graduating students are from the region and have an ultimate interest in practicing medicine in the Valley or working with underserved populations. We are incredibly proud of them and we’re excited to celebrate their future.” 

 “I’m so excited. UCSF Fresno was my top choice. I’m from Fresno. I grew up here and I can’t wait to not only learn and continue to learn psychiatry but practice here in the future,” said Atwal.

 As part of the Match Day process, graduating medical school students typically register with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The NRMP utilizes a mathematical algorithm to place applicants into residency and fellowship positions. Medical school graduates then begin residency training, usually in June or July, at the hospital or program where they “matched.” A similar “match” occurs for fellows and sub-specialty training each year in December.

The UCSF Fresno residency programs that participated in the NRMP match received 5,654 applications and conducted 1,092 interviews for 91 positions. UCSF Fresno fellowship programs that took part in the October/December NRMP match received 1,097 applications and conducted 200 interviews for 18 positions. The remaining programs filled available positions through another matching service or through interviews.

“On Match Day, we celebrated the medical students we have trained and the residents and fellows who will begin their training with us in June,” said Lori Weichenthal, MD, assistant dean for graduate medical education at UCSF Fresno. “As a branch campus of UCSF and the largest physician training program between Sacramento and Los Angeles, our focus is on training 21st Century physician leaders. Our aim is to provide them with training and experiences that inspire them to stay in the San Joaquin Valley to provide high-quality, culturally competent care.” 

UCSF Fresno currently offers residency training in eight medical specialties, one oral and maxillofacial surgery dental residency, fellowship training in 18 medical sub-specialties and three residency programs for physician assistants. UCSF Fresno also trains about 300 medical students, including those in the SJV PRIME, on a rotating basis each year.

SJV PRIME was established in 2010 as a partnership among the UC Davis School of Medicine, UC Merced, UCSF Fresno and the UCSF School of Medicine. The first class of students started in 2011.

In July 2018, the UCSF School of Medicine received approval from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education to establish UCSF Fresno as a branch medical campus to lead SJV PRIME. Up to six students will start in the fall of 2019, with the goal of admitting 12 SJV PRIME students in 2020. Students enrolled in the program will spend 18 months at UCSF in San Francisco and then move to Fresno for the remainder of their medical school training. Acceptance offer letters are being extended now to students who will represent the incoming cohort and who will start training as part of the new UCSF SJV PRIME in August.