UCSF Fresno Receives $3.375 Million to Support Medical Resident Education

FRESNO – UCSF Fresno was one of several medical education programs in the San Joaquin Valley that recently received funding to support medical resident education in the region. Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) awarded more than $12 million to programs in the Valley, one of the areas in the state with the greatest need for physicians. UCSF Fresno will receive $3.375 million in one-time funding over four years.

Michael W. Peterson, MD, associate dean at UCSF Fresno, said, “Receiving these grants as part of a competitive application process is truly gratifying and represents an important step forward in the Valley. Thank you to Physicians for Healthy California. To begin to address the health care needs of our region’s growing, aging and diverse population, many more physicians are needed and to do that, ongoing support for infrastructure in resident education is critical.”

Seventy-three programs across the state received $38 million collectively. The available funds did not meet demand. The PHC received 131 applications from eligible residency programs, totaling $147 million in funding requests. The organization said the $38 million serves as a down payment on increasing graduate medical education.

The San Joaquin Valley has fewer licensed physicians practicing in the region than other parts of the state and California as a whole. There are 133 active physicians (excluding medical residents) per 100,000 population compared with the state rate of 222 active physicians per 100,000 population, according to a Healthforce Center at UCSF report. The situation will only worsen in the coming years. Thirty percent of physicians in the Valley are over the age of 60 and are expected to retire within the next decade. The California Future Health Workforce Commission estimates the state will face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care physicians by 2030.

In 2016, voters approved Proposition 56, which increased the tax on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes by $2 per pack. The tax generates about $1 billion a year and is intended for the purposes of increasing access to health care and supporting crucial health care programs, including a $40 million graduate medical education (GME) fund to sustain, retain and expand GME programs. The goal of the fund is to increase the number of primary care and emergency physicians in California. The fund is administered by PHC, the foundation for the California Medical Association.

Graduate medical education refers to the hospital and clinic-based training of medical school graduates under faculty supervision prior to practicing independently. Residency training typically lasts three to five years, depending on the specialty. Fellowships are advanced training beyond residency in a subspecialty.  

Established by UCSF as a regional graduate medical education campus in 1975 and recently designated as a branch campus of the UCSF School of Medicine, UCSF Fresno trains about 300 physicians annually. Each year, approximately 100 complete residency and fellowship training at UCSF Fresno. About 50 percent of UCSF Fresno-trained physicians remain in the region to care for community members.