UCI launches nation's first medical education program focused on Latino culture

Irvine, Calif., July 8, 2004 -- Sarah Lopez wants to improve health care for the large Latino community in her California hometown. Gabriel Rivera plans to advance medical research to help Mexican American immigrants across the country. And Gabriela Diaz seeks to break down the cultural barriers limiting health care access for America's migrant farm workers.

As inaugural class members of UC Irvine College of Medicine's Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC), each of these future physicians is committed to closing the health care gap for the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group. PRIME-LC, in turn, is helping the students achieve their goals by providing a unique medical training experience designed to meet the increasing demand for physicians and public health leaders who can address the distinct needs of Latinos.

Launched this month with eight students, the first-of-its-kind program combines medical-school training focused on Latino health issues with post-graduate work in environmental health, science and policy. PRIME-LC graduates will earn both a medical degree from UCI's College of Medicine and a master's degree from the School of Social Ecology that emphasizes Latino health care disparities, public health or health care policy.

"As Latinos become the largest population group in California and the largest minority group in the nation, meeting their medical needs takes on even greater importance in terms of overall public health," said Dr. Alberto Manetta, senior associate dean of educational affairs in the College of Medicine and director of PRIME-LC. "This first class of PRIME-LC students will pave the way for future leaders who can address the myriad Latino health care issues in California and the nation."

Such issues have become paramount in California, where one-third of the population is Latino. Lack of adequate insurance prevents millions of California Latinos from receiving quality health care, and the langu

Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

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