UC Merced

UC Merced takes another step in developing medical program

UC Merced appointed Donald M. Hilty, M.D., to the position of co-director of the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education.

The appointment is the latest step in the university's long-term plan to develop a medical education program leading to an independent medical school, it said in a news release.

Hilty will work with Frederick J. Meyers, M.D., who was named executive director of medical education and academic planning at UC Merced in fall 2008.

Hilty is a professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Rural Program in Medical Education (Rural-PRIME) at UC Davis. Rural-PRIME is part of the University of California's "Programs in Medical Education," which is designed to produce physician leaders who are trained and committed to caring for the state's underserved communities, the news release said.

The UC Davis Rural-PRIME was created specifically to train the best medical students for fulfilling careers in rural communities. UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF also implement programs in medical education.

"The appointment of Dr. Hilty represents another step on the pathway to developing an independent medical school at UC Merced," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "We remain committed to developing a research-based medical school as funding -- both public and private -- is secured. By educating and retaining the next generation of the state's physicians, UC Merced will play an important role in enhancing the long-term health of the region."

Hilty will leverage the knowledge and opportunities of the existing UC Davis program to develop a UC Merced San Joaquin Valley PRIME, where students will become knowledgeable about health issues pertinent to the San Joaquin Valley. His expertise is in curriculum planning, underserved populations, mood disorders, and telemedicine used for clinical care and distance education to rural and underserved areas. Like Meyers, Hilty will share his time between UC Merced and UC Davis.

Hilty completed his undergraduate education at Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. After earning his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine, he completed an internship and a fellowship in psychiatry at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where he also served as chief resident. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Planning for a medical school at UC Merced began before the arrival of undergraduate students at UC Merced in fall 2005. Here's a timeline:

In July 2006, UC Merced received a $5 million donation from United Health Foundation to assist in the development of medical education and related health sciences programs.

In fall 2008, UC Merced retained the Washington Advisory Group (WAG) to assist in examining and evaluating the campus' planning efforts to establish a new medical school.

In early February 2009, UC President Mark Yudof endorsed the recommendations by WAG to establish a medical education program leading to an independent medical school at UC Merced.

Planning continues for a medical education program, the news release said. Meanwhile, UC Merced continues to develop its core academic and research programs, including the Health Sciences Research Institute, Valley Telehealth Project and the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health Disparities in Rural and Ethnic Underserved Populations (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).