The Pro Med Mentorship Program is a new mission to help support aspiring physicians. Some of our very own Kaweah Delta physicians have volunteered their time to mentor a handful of selected Redwood students. On Wednesday, January 11th, 2017, interviews for the Pro Med Mentorship program began in the Redwood library, bringing the organization’s goals one step closer to reality. Redwood students interested in participating in the program would send in a transcript of their grades, describe any extra-curricular activities that they are associated with and provide a personal statement.
According to Gabe Munoz, a coordinator of this program, one of the reasons that sparked the creation of the Pro Med Mentorship program is that the Central Valley has an alarming shortage of health care physicians. The program hopes to provide high school students with necessary information on how to become a successful physician.
“One of our main goals is to inspire the next generation of physicians here in the Central Valley, and particularly in family medicine physicians.” Munoz said.
This organization offers two different types of programs. One is a club, known as the Pro Med Club, and the other type is the Pro Med Mentorship Program. The club would be open to anyone who is interested in becoming a doctor. They would learn the process of becoming a doctor and know the stages and recommended coursework towards that profession. The mentorship program offers the same content as the club, but also includes a one-on-one session between the chosen student and participating physician.
The goal is to teach and bring physicians back into the Valley to address the shortage of health care doctors, not only in Visalia, but for the entire Central Valley. ProYouth and the Kaweah Delta Medical Center have collaborated together to explore a likely solution to the physician shortage problem.
For roughly 13 years, Teresa Ramos, Community Outreach Director for ProYouth, have been planning to release this program to public schools. Previously, Ramos had worked with the Board of Directors at Kaweah Delta Healthcare District which was suggested to become a teaching hospital at the time. Noticing how hard it was to recruit doctors into the Valley, the board had begun to consider working with the younger generation as an option.
“If we invest time in them, maybe they’ll want to come back or aspire to be physicians.” Ramos said.
Alongside with Ramos, JD Medina, a research coordinator at Kaweah Delta, had been able to assist the creation of this program as well.
“By encouraging high school students throughout their four years in high school to consider a career pathway in medicine and becoming potential physicians…and hopefully, after four years of undergrad and after four of med school, they’ll come back and apply to our residencies here at Kaweah Delta.” Medina said.
Pioneers of this program hope to create a better Visalia by helping young student to be successful in their career path to “doctor-dom”. And someday, it may encourage these future doctors to come back and work in Visalia, thus contributing back to the community.