General UCSF Medical Education News

UCSF School of Medicine Post Baccalaureate Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The UCSF School of Medicine Post Baccalaureate Program (PBP) was established in the summer of 1999 to increase the enrollment of underserved, underrepresented and low-income students in medical school.

Twenty-five years later, the program is an exceptional success: 325 students have completed the program, and ninety-six percent of its alumni matriculate into medical school, with seventy-eight percent returning to practice in California and sixty-three percent serving non-English speaking patients and communities.

The program has made a tangible difference in increasing the number of physicians from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds in California and nationally. Sixty-four percent of program alumni attended or are attending medical school in California, with fifty-nine percent at a University of California medical school, and nineteen percent at UCSF.

Group of people posing for a photo
UCSF School of Medicine Post Baccalaureate program alumni and staff at the 2024 Alumni Weekend


The year-long graduate certificate program features MCAT preparation, upper division science courses at UC Berkeley Extension, graduate seminars at UCSF featuring School of Medicine faculty, workshops on test-taking strategies, time management, applying to medical school, a student-led health disparities journal club, mentoring by faculty and medical students, advising by staff, and assistance with the medical school application process.

The program assists students in matriculating into and thriving during medical school. Program alumni go on to serve their communities, not only as physicians but also as leaders and advocates for change in addressing health equity.

Valerie Margol, Associate Director of the UCSF School of Medicine Post Baccalaureate and Outreach Programs, said, “I think the future will always be bright as we continue to assist promising students from underserved, underrepresented, and low-income backgrounds in realizing their dreams to become physician leaders in their communities. Their resilience, ideals, and aspirations inspire me daily.”

A Focus on Interprofessional Learning

Similar in structure to the other California Post Baccalaureate Consortium programs, the UCSF Post Baccalaureate Program is uniquely interdisciplinary in focus. The PBP is part of the UCSF Interprofessional Health Post Baccalaureate Program with the UCSF Schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy, allowing students to engage in interprofessional activities and seminars. All students complete a continuous quality improvement (CQI) project with mentorship by UCSF faculty in one of the UCSF hospitals or clinics.

Group of four people pose for a photo
Sally K., Daniela G., Emily N., and Lesly M., Post Baccalaureate students who teamed with Dr. Lev Malevanchik on a CQI project focused on Improving the Hospitalization Experience of Patients with Limited English Proficiency, pictured at the 2024 Post Baccalaureate CQI Symposium


Lev Malevanchik, MD, Assistant Professor of Hospital Medicine, has been a CQI project mentor with the PBP for two years. “I love engaging post baccalaureate students in problem solving and teaching, while also having them identify that the systems in which we work are flawed. It is challenging to problem solve in a flawed environment, but if I can give them some skills to do that, I feel like it will set them up for success.”

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Katrin Jaradeh, MD

Alumni pointed to these first-hand CQI experiences as key to helping them identify the patient populations they wanted to serve. Before joining the PBP, Katrin Jaradeh, MD, PBP Class of 2017, UCSF School of Medicine Class of 2023, and a first-year Emergency Medicine resident at UCSF, was interested in working with immigrant and underserved/underinsured populations.

Dr. Jaradeh said, “During the Post Baccalaureate Program, I was assigned a project with a mentor at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and was exposed to working with underserved populations in San Francisco. The experience allowed me to see some of the gaps in health care and to think of ways to meet some of the needs of these populations when I stayed at UCSF for medical school.”

Dr. Jaradeh added, “The program was tailored for each student and what they needed to succeed in the next phase of their career. I gained confidence, skills in effective mentorship, a diverse community of colleagues, effective study skills, and life-long friends.”

Finding Community and Confidence

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Nathan Coss, MD, UCSF Class of 2024

In addition to transformational academic experiences and mentorship, the PBP allows participants to build community with students from similar underserved backgrounds.

Nathan Coss, MD, PBP Class of 2018, UCSF Class of 2024, said, “The UCSF Post Baccalaureate Program helped me regain a renewed confidence in my academic abilities. After sometimes feeling lost among the sea of students at my large undergraduate university, I appreciated having a small community to call home. My renewed confidence carried over into my medical school interviews and my academic studies in medical school at UCSF.”

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Leonida Radford, University of Washington MS-3

Leonida Radford, PBP Class of 2020, an MS3 at the University of Washington, said, “The support and community that the Post Baccalaureate Program creates let me live my dream of becoming a medical student. It gave me an invaluable community of peers. Without this program, I wouldn’t be in medical school. The PBP helped me understand that I belong in medicine and medicine needs me.”

Learn more about the UCSF School of Medicine Post Baccalaureate program on the Post Baccalaureate and Outreach Programs webpage.