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In Midst of Physician Shortage, Inland Empire Gets New Medical School

Michelle Tom receives her white coat from UC Riverside Medical School Dean Richard Olds. (Photo: Carrie Rosema)

Michelle Tom receives her white coat from UC Riverside Medical School Dean Richard Olds. (Photo: Carrie Rosema)

By Kenny Goldberg, KPBS

Classes began this week at California’s newest medical school. UC Riverside is the first publicly-funded medical school to open in the state in more than 40 years. Fifty students make up the school’s inaugural class.

Last Friday night, the audience gave the medical students a warm reception as they filed into the school’s main gymnasium. After some introductory remarks, the crowd fell silent as the young men and women lined up at the foot of the stage.

“I would like to welcome our first student across the stage, Omar Aldas,” the speaker announced.

Riverside County had 99 doctors per 100,000 people, versus a statewide average of 174.
One by one, students came up and were ceremoniously awarded their physician’s white coat.

While some students were visibly nervous as they walked onto the stage. 23-year-old Michelle Tom sported an enormous smile. She was still beaming when the ceremony was over.

“This is just like, unreal, because my whole life, … I wanted to be a doctor,” Tom said. “And finally, finally, I get to put this white coat on.” Continue reading