Central Valley

Med students team to introduce new health program to Valley patients

Seven UCSF Fresno medical students are teaming up in a new program that blends maternal, child and family practice to care for patients in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Three of the students are returning to the Valley to take part in the "Model Madres" program, which stresses integrated care from newborns to elders. The program puts an emphasis on the singular characteristics of the region -- students also study Spanish, the primary language of many of their future patients.

As part of the 24-week Madres program, the third-year students will take part in three weeks of pediatric care, followed by two weeks of labor and delivery and two weeks of gynecology, including gynecological surgery.

Student Alexander Nguyen, 25, of San Jose said the program focuses on the mother as the central figure in family health care.

The program's aim is for students to develop an overall view of their patients over a period of time, rather than just getting a snapshot view, according to Adriana Padilla, the director of undergraduate medical education at the Fresno branch of the University of California at San Francisco. That allows them to connect better with those they care for, she said.

Nima Fayazmanesh, 27, who grew up in Clovis, was drawn to the program because of his Valley ties.

"That's where I'm from, and I may want to practice here," he said.

Fayazmanesh graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in biology and then received a Fulbright Scholarship to do epilepsy research at the University of Amsterdam.

Another Valley native, Jaime Raul Antuna, 26, of Mendota, received a chemistry degree from California State University, Fresno, and was attracted to Madres because of the shortage of physicians in the region and because everything felt familiar.

"It's like coming home," he said.

Cynthia Zamora, 23, of Merced, graduated from Stanford with a degree in biological science. She said she is aware of the health-care needs of the region.

"I grew up seeing the health disparities [here]," she said.

The Spanish language aspect also appealed to her.

"I really like working with the Latino population," she said.

For Bianca Watson, 24, of Sacramento, a University of California at San Diego graduate, Madres appeals to her desire to specialize in family medicine.

"Health really depends on the family structure," she said.

The teamwork aspect drew her in, too.

"We're in a small group -- it's going to be really supportive," Watson said. "I'm really excited about the opportunity."