Admissions FAQ

Q: Who is in PRIME-US?

A: Participating students are based at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco and at the Joint Medical Program (JMP) in Berkeley. Although students come to the program with diverse interests and backgrounds, they share a strong commitment to working with urban underserved populations. We are looking for students who are interested in all aspects of health and health care (clinical care, health policy, public health, research, education, etc) and all fields (primary, specialty and surgical care).

Q: What is the application process?

A: You are invited to apply to PRIME-US when you submit your secondary application to UCSF.  Applicants to PRIME-US  must meet all of the requirements of the UCSF School of Medicine.

Applicants interested in UCSF PRIME-US should check the UCSF campus PRIME-US box on your secondary application forms. A separate PRIME-US essay should then be submitted with your secondary application materials to the UCSF School of Medicine Admissions Office.

Applicants interested in the JMP may apply to the JMP PRIME-US by checking the JMP campus PRIME-US box on your secondary application forms. A separate PRIME-US essay should then be submitted with your secondary application materials to the UCSF School of Medicine Admissions Office. 

You may use the same PRIME-US essay if you are applying to both UCSF and the JMP.

Q: Is the PRIME-US curriculum in addition to the regular medical school curriculum?

A: Most of the PRIME-US curriculum is in addition to your regular medical school curriculum.  Although clinical experiences are part of your regular curriculum, PRIME-US is committed to placing our participants in community-based clinics and other settings that provide care to underserved populations.

Q: Will PRIME-US separate me from my classmates?

A: Involvement in the PRIME-US program may distinguish you from your classmates on some occasions, but we are committed to finding the right balance between creating a special group of students interested in working with the urban underserved while at the same time ensuring that you are integrated into your medical school class and that your peers have a chance to participate in some of our activities as well.

Q: What exactly does “urban” mean and why is PRIME-US focused only on the urban underserved?

A: Our definition of urban is not limited to San Francisco or Los Angeles. PRIME-US students will get to know many of the other Bay Area cities as well as Fresno, a city in the Central Valley. We are primarily focused on the urban underserved in the United States, but recognize that international interest and experience is of great value. UCSF has chosen to focus our PRIME program on the urban underserved because it is an area in which we have great expertise and resources.

Q: Can you recommend some resources to learn more about urban underserved populations?

A: Readings for our seminar series will include excerpts from several books (two are listed below) and various journal articles.

Medical Management of Vulnerable & Underserved Patients Principles, Practice, Population, King TE, Wheeler M, Fernandez A, Schillinger D, Bindman A, Grumbach G, Villela T, McGraw-Hill Medical McGraw-Hill Medical, 2006.

Understanding Health Policy: A Clinical Approach, Thomas S. Bodenheimer and Kevin Grumbach, Lange Medical, McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Q: Are there scholarships for PRIME-US students?

A: We have raised scholarship money for PRIME-US at UCSF. This funding is reserved for students with financial need and will be distributed by the Office of Financial Aid. We also provide stipends for the summer orientation and small grants for community-based projects.

Q: What is the master's degree requirement and when do I have to complete it?

A: All of the UC PRIME programs require a masters degree. At UC Berkeley, the JMP students work on their masters degree during their first three years, while the SF based students will complete their degree between the third and fourth years. UCSF students are not required to enroll in any specific degree program. There are local MPH and MPP programs at UC Berkeley and SF State, as well as other opportunities across the country.

Q: What if I don’t get into PRIME-US?

A: There are many students at UCSF and the JMP who are committed to improving the health and health care of underserved populations. PRIME-US is just one program that takes advantage of the many available resources and opportunities.