Innovative scholarship program expected to increase medical professionals in Coachella Valley

Published on August 7, 2014 at 5:06 AM · No Comments

The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation is funding an innovative scholarship program that aims to bring back a Coachella Valley high school graduate as one of the area's trained physicians. The gift to the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine was awarded as a mission-based scholarship to incoming medical student Jay Thetford, a resident of Cathedral City, who intends to practice medicine in the Coachella Valley.

"A key strategy for keeping UCR-educated physicians in our region is helping students alleviate the cost of medical school through these mission-based scholarships," said

"One of my primary responsibilities as a doctor will be to advocate for the wellbeing of my community and facilitate progress toward the expansion of healthcare," Thetford said.

The scholarship funded by the Berger Foundation will help him achieve that goal by providing the Coachella Valley native the cost of medical school tuition for four years.

"We believe this scholarship is an investment in medical care in the Coachella Valley," said Christopher M. McGuire, vice president of programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. "It's important for the vitality of our community to create opportunities for our young people to receive professional training and then remain here providing those services."

The medical school's mission-based scholarship program is one example of the School's strategy to address workforce shortages by retaining UCR-trained physicians in the region. The Berger Foundation-funded scholarship is for a student who commits to practice medicine in the Coachella Valley. Other scholarships that are part of the program provide an incentive for students to alleviate medical school debt while remaining in Inland Southern California for at least five years following medical school education and residency training. Similar scholarships have been established by First 5 Riverside and by a Riverside couple, Dave and Nina Mitchell.

Should the recipients of the mission-based scholarships practice outside of the region before the end of those five years, the scholarships become repayable loans.

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