TAG: "Students"

UC students visit peach farm, meet with President Napolitano


Fruitful discussion of Global Food Initiative.

UC President Janet Napolitano listens to UC Global Food Initiative student fellows discuss their projects at Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey. (Photos by Roger J. Wyan)

By Alec Rosenberg

For 28 UC Global Food Initiative student fellows, their classroom Monday wasn’t a lecture hall or laboratory, but the sandy soils of Masumoto Family Farm near Fresno.

The fellows, representing each UC campus, gathered at the 80-acre organic farm to dig into the soil, thin the fruiting peach trees and sit under a sycamore tree to discuss the food initiative with UC President Janet Napolitano.

UC Merced undergraduate student Hoaithi Dang, who is working to develop food education as part of a freshman core course next year, called the visit invigorating.

“I feel so inspired to continue my work and do more,” Dang said.

Napolitano listened to the students talk about their projects, asked them questions and announced that she was extending the Global Food Initiative student fellowship program, which began last fall, for another two years.

“Where do we go from here and how do we make this more of a student-based initiative?” Napolitano asked the fellows. “I’m really interested in your ideas and your research.”

Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July in an effort to help put UC’s campuses, the state and world on a pathway to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves. It’s an important subject to the fellows, who offered several suggestions for building the fellowship program and the broader initiative.

A fruitful visit

UC Riverside graduate student Dietlinde Heilmayr suggested that fellows should meet at the beginning of the year to set goals, share ideas and develop collaborations.

“We should think about having a workshop with food fellows and associated faculty in the fall to discuss projects and timelines and develop peer-to-peer relationships,” Napolitano replied, receiving thumbs up and nods of approval from the fellows.

Ian Davies, a UCLA undergraduate student who is working to add two community gardens at the campus, said it would be good to know more about other fellows’ projects earlier, which could encourage joint efforts.

“I think that would be really fruitful,” said Davies, who plans to visit gardens at each UC campus and compile that information for sharing.

Having a digital archive such as a wiki also would be useful for fellows to share best practices, said Ankita Raturi, a UC Irvine graduate student who is working to model the environmental impact of agricultural systems.

Global Food Initiative student fellows dig in the dirt with Mas Masumoto at his family farm near Fresno.

A history lesson

The farm visit helped connect the fellows with each other and the land.

The father-and-daughter team of Mas and Nikiko Masumoto, both UC Berkeley graduates, led fellows on a tour of their family farm, where they grow peaches, nectarines and grapes for raisins.

“The key is the soil,” said Mas Masumoto, a third-generation Japanese-American farmer and author of books including “Epitaph for a Peach,” where he tells the story of his efforts to rescue the sweet and juicy variety of Sun Crest peaches.

Standing in an orchard of those now 50-year-old Sun Crest peach trees, Masumoto asked the students to dig into the soil with a shovel, put their hands into dirt and feel how it crumbles into sand.

“I love this place because it has so much history and they’re respectful of it so it can be there for their next generation,” said Samantha Smith, a UC Davis graduate student who is working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to help scientists share stories about their research with the public. “This perspective will help bring about change.”

Nikiko Masumoto discusses thinning peach trees with Global Food Initiative student fellows.

Nikiko Masumoto taught the students how to thin peach trees — removing unneeded fruit from each limb, including small ones and “twins,” or double peaches, to make room for the strongest pieces of fruit, which will begin to be harvested in five weeks. Pinching off the immature fruit between their thumbs and index fingers, students called it therapeutic.

“I grew up in a suburb,” said Jacqueline Chang, a UC Berkeley undergraduate student assisting ANR on a survey to assess student hunger. “It’s really cool for me to see literally where my food is coming from. I’ve eaten Masumoto peaches from Berkeley Bowl. But to touch the fuzzy little peaches here (on the farm) is great.”

Sowing solutions

From farm to fork, fellow projects are trying to make the food system more nutritious and sustainable.

Kripa Akila Jagannathan, a UC Berkeley graduate student, is working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to make climate models that are more useful for farmers.

UC San Diego undergraduate students Jancy Benavides and Jane Kang are doing research to advance urban agriculture at Ocean View Growing Grounds. The former vacant lot is now a thriving community garden thanks to a partnership between the local community and UC San Diego.

Jonathan Schor, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at UC San Francisco, is developing a mobile app that takes nutritional facts such as a food’s calorie count and translates that into an equivalent physical activity such as running or lifting weights.

“That will keep you away from a Big Mac,” Napolitano said. “I love the idea.”

UC Santa Barbara undergraduate students Kathryn Parkinson and Emilie Wood are working to reduce food waste in UCSB’s dining commons — testing two messages to see which is more effective with students. They hope to spread their efforts across UC.

Joanna Ory, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student whose project focuses on food equity but also is doing international research on water pollution from pesticides, asked Napolitano how she will make the global part more prominent in the Global Food Initiative.

“I’ve been thinking about the global part of the food initiative,” said Napolitano, who noted that UC has students and researchers in over 100 countries. “We’re just starting.”

Inspiring ideas

It’s important for students to build their understanding of agriculture by seeing firsthand how farming works, said UC Regent Fred Ruiz, who joined fellows on the farm visit.

“This kind of experience helps make our farm complete,” Mas Masumoto said. “It makes me wish I was young and a student again.”

Before the tour, fellows gathered Sunday evening to meet the Masumotos and discuss student engagement. UCOP Sustainability Director Matthew St. Clair spoke about how as a UC Berkeley graduate student, in 2003, he helped lead efforts to get the UC Regents to adopt a systemwide green building policy and clean energy standard. St. Clair was then hired by UCOP to implement the sustainability policy, which has expanded to nine sections, including foodservice, and become a model for other universities.

“You have the luxury of idealism and knowing what we should do,” St. Clair said to the fellows. “Work with UC while pushing UC to do all it can.”

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States’ policies put health of undocumented immigrants at risk


Ohio rules create greatest health risk for undocumented residents; California the fewest.

By Gwendolyn Driscoll, UCLA

California scored the highest in a new ranking of U.S. states’ public policies and laws that support the health and well-being of undocumented immigrants.

The report, by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America, with support from the UC Global Health Institute, also found that Ohio had policies that were more exclusionary than those of any other state.

The report focuses on state policies as of 2014 in nine categories across five areas: public health and welfare, higher education, labor and employment, access to driver licensing and government ID card programs, and enforcement of the federal Secure Communities program — all of which influence the health of immigrants and their families.

The researchers rated each state’s policies as “inclusive” (supporting health and well-being) or “exclusive” (harming health and well-being). Scores, which ranged from +1 to -1 for each category, were then tallied for an overall rating for each state. The average total score was -2.5 points.

California scored a total of +9; liberal-leaning New York scored +1. Only six other states and Washington, D.C., had overall scores greater than 0. Other surprises: Texas, frequently in the news for its conservative policies, scored +2 overall, making it one of the five most inclusive states. And Florida, which has a large population of recent immigrants, earned a -3. In all, 41 states were in negative territory.

See the results in a sortable, state-by-state list.

States with the top five and bottom six overall scores:

Top 5
1. California +9
2. Illinois +7
3. Washington +4
4. (tie) Colorado +2
4. (tie) Texas  +2

Bottom 6
51. Ohio -7
50. (tie) Alabama -6
50. (tie) Arizona -6
50. (tie) Indiana -6
50. (tie) Mississippi -6
50. (tie) West Virginia -6

“It is frustrating that so many states have policies that ignore or exclude a group of people who work hard and contribute so much to our society,” said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of the report. “The neglect or outright discrimination of the undocumented does not just hurt workers and their families; it hurts the communities that rely on them for the basic labor that makes our society function.”

Policies affect millions

The states’ public policies — and how each responds to flexibility in federal laws — affect the estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, according to the report. The policies evaluated in the study also affect about 4 million U.S.-born children who live in “mixed-status” families, in which at least one parent is undocumented.

Laws in Arizona — including its immigration status check provision — and in other states have attracted federal court challenges and much media attention. Yet many state laws that can either promote or complicate the health of undocumented immigrants receive little attention.

Examples of beneficial or harmful policy outcomes, by program area:

Public health and welfare. Some states offer child health insurance or similar benefits regardless of immigration status, and some offer full Medicaid to pregnant undocumented women, but many do not. Most states determine eligibility for food stamps (now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) by factoring in the family’s income and the number of all family members, regardless of their immigration status. But five states, including Arizona and Ohio, calculate eligibility for assistance using the income of all family members, but determine “family size” based only on those who are citizens or lawful permanent residents. This makes it more difficult for families with undocumented members to qualify.

Higher education. Twenty states, including California, Illinois, Florida, New York and Texas, allow undocumented students who attended secondary school in the state to pay in-state tuition for colleges and universities. Five of those, including California and Texas, also offer scholarship funding for those students. The rest require undocumented college students to pay out-of-state tuition, even if they attended K-12 in-state. Among the most exclusive is Georgia, which bars undocumented students from attending many of its public colleges and universities — even if they graduated from high schools in the state.

Labor and employment. Ten states’ workers’ compensation laws classify undocumented workers as “employees,” which qualifies them for workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job. But many states encourage public and private employers making hiring decisions to use the federal employment tool, E-verify, to check if an immigrant is authorized to work. Twenty states require state agencies, state contractors and/or private employers to use E-Verify; only two — California and Illinois — limit its use.

Access to driver’s licenses and government IDs. While some undocumented people can obtain identifications cards from their consular offices, cities such as Chicago, Oakland and San Francisco offer municipal IDs, which allow more access to public and private services. As of 2014, six states — California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have laws that provide driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. But a federal law, REAL ID, puts restrictions on states that grant driver’s licenses or other IDs to the undocumented. Half of the states have passed resolutions or statute opposing the law.

Secure Communities. This enforcement program required that local police share information with federal immigration authorities, and it has contributed to the deportation of roughly 400,000 people per year, according to Pew Research. This has separated families and put stress on immigrants’ finances and health, the authors write. California, Connecticut and Colorado have adopted policies that prevent some undocumented immigrants charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses from being turned over to federal immigration authorities. Secure Communities was replaced by the Priority Enforcement Program, which does not require local law enforcement agencies to share information gathered in an arrest with the federal government.

Even high-scoring states can improve

Even the states that earned positive scores have room for improvement. The authors recommend actions all states can take to create a better environment for undocumented immigrants:

• Strengthen laws that secure undocumented immigrants’ rights in the five areas reviewed in the report.
• Buffer federal laws that restrict undocumented immigrants’ rights or access to resources.
• Focus on passing laws that are inclusive, rather than laws that explicitly exclude residents based on their legal status.
• More closely examine public policies for their ultimate impact on undocumented immigrants’ health.

“State and national lawmakers must recognize the value undocumented immigrants have in our country,” said Dr. Michael Rodriguez, co-author of the report, of the Blum Center and a faculty associate at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “States must understand the critical role their policies play in promoting or hindering the well-being of undocumented immigrants who are an important part of the economic, political and social fabric of our nation.”

A report launch seminar with the authors, “The Healthiest (and Most Unhealthy) States to Be an Undocumented Immigrant: A Review of State Health Policies,” will be held from 12-1 p.m. today (April 16) at 10960 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1550, Los Angeles.

A special plenary session, “No Federal Immigration Reform? What States Can Do to Improve the Health of Undocumented Workers,” will be held from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday, April 18, during UC Global Health Day at UCLA, Covel Commons, 200 De Neve Drive, Los Angeles. Registration for UC Global Health Day is required for admission. Onsite: general $75, student $50.

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UCSF Fresno celebrates 40 years of training physicians


Fundraiser highlights impact on health in San Joaquin Valley.

UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program will celebrate 40 years of training physicians for the San Joaquin Valley at its biennial fundraiser “Valley Visions.”

The event will be held on Saturday, April 11, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center New Exhibit Hall, located at 848 M St. in downtown Fresno. Hundreds of physicians, other health care professionals and community leaders are expected to attend.

Since it was established as a regional campus of UCSF in 1975, UCSF Fresno has trained approximately 3,000 physicians. Up to 40 percent of them stay in the San Joaquin Valley to provide medical care for community members.

“UCSF Fresno has grown significantly over the past four decades,” said Michael W. Peterson, M.D., interim associate dean and chief of medicine at UCSF Fresno. “Today, we are the San Joaquin Valley’s largest physician training program. Currently, we train about 600 physicians and future physicians through all of our medical education programs every year, right here in Fresno.”Growth at UCSF Fresno since 1975:
  • The number of core faculty at UCSF Fresno increased from one to 230
  • The number of medical residents and fellows trained on an annual basis rose from 102 to 300
  • Seventeen fellowship programs were established
The number of medical students that conduct clinical rotations at UCSF Fresno increased from 186 in 2003 to more than 300 currently.Since 1998, UCSF Fresno has attracted more than $85 million in research, public service and training grants and contracts.

“Our progress and success is a result of the hard work and dedication of our partners, donors, faculty and staff,” added Peterson. “Valley Visions is a celebration of them as much as it is recognition of our 40th anniversary. We look forward to continue working collaboratively well into the future.Working together is the most effective way to move forward our missions of providing medical education, clinical care and medical research to improve health and health care in the region.”

The 5th Valley Visions will honor UCSF Fresno’s ruby anniversary with premium food and beverage tastings from local culinary artisans, wineries and breweries. A sit-down dinner also will be served,followed by live music and dancing. In addition, the event will include a silent auction featuring vacation packages, autographed sports and celebrity memorabilia, designer fashions and jewelry, dinners and much more.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit UCSF Fresno’s many medical education programs.

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UC medical students celebrate Match Day


More than 650 UC graduating medical students match to residency programs.

UCLA graduating medical students Jiwoon Chang (left) and Abinav Baweja celebrate after learning that they matched together to the internal medicine residency program at NYU.

For graduating medical students, Match Day is the Academy Awards without the red carpet, March Madness without the brackets. It’s a thrilling time when the nation’s future doctors learn which hospital has accepted them for residency to get advanced training in their chosen specialty.

On March 20, more than 650 UC medical students were among the nearly 17,000 seniors at traditional U.S. medical schools who learned where they were matched.

UCLA graduating medical students Abinav Baweja and Jiwoon Chang couldn’t wait to tell each other where they were matched. The friends were overjoyed to find out that they matched together to their first choice – a top East Coast program in internal medicine.

“NYU: We said it at the same time. We burst into tears and laughter. It was a big moment for both of us,” Baweja said. “There is no better feeling than this … we made it!”

UC Davis' Chelsea Ma reacts to her residency match.

Virtually all UC graduating medical students matched, including 105 at UC Davis, 96 at UC Irvine, 161 at UCLA, 115 at UC San Diego and 177 at UC San Francisco. Most will continue their training in California.

“It’s a little hard to put into words,” said Agustin Morales, a fourth-year UC Davis medical student from Salinas who was part of the first San Joaquin Valley PRIME cohort – a collaboration between the UC Davis School of Medicine, UC Merced and UCSF Fresno that trains medical students with a special emphasis on patients in underserved communities.

“It’s been an amazing journey, and I matched to my number-one pick, UCSF Fresno,” added Morales. “It’s a gem of a program in internal medicine and I’m excited about the next three years.”

Newly minted UC Irvine doctor Jacob Blickenstaff and his wife, Jacky, cheer over his letter from the medical institution where he'll begin his career.

Fourth-year UCSF medical student Aaron Smith, was excited to be graduating and begin his residency program in internal medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.

“My dream growing up has always been to become a doctor,” Smith said. “Now when people call me a doc, I’m actually a doc! This is the fulfillment of what I’ve always wanted to do.”

At UC Irvine, Match Day is an emotional, festive event during which the future doctors are called to a podium one at a time to open an envelope and read aloud before hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where they’ll spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training as a resident physician.

UC San Diego graduating medical students celebrate their matches.

A former elementary school teacher, Marcella Torres, 40, used her experience volunteering with the Peace Corps in Panama and helping Burmese refugees in Northern Thailand to enter UC Irvine’s PRIME program for the Latino community, the first medical training program to address the specific needs of America’s largest and fastest-growing community. She matched with a family medicine residency program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez and next month plans to go Cuba with another PRIME student to observe its community-based primary care health system.

Among the UC San Diego participants was Thomas Onyia, an immigrant from central Africa who plans to be an anesthesiologist and participate in surgical outreach missions in Africa and other developing countries.

UC San Francisco medical students Tarann Henderson (left) and Matthew Abad-Santos matched with emergency medicine and surgery programs, respectively.

“I feel great,” said Onyia, after his envelope revealed that he got his wish to do his residency at UC San Diego. “The best thing about it is that I have great mentors here who have supported me throughout the process.”

With a match rate of 93.9 percent, nearly all of the nation’s seniors at traditional medical schools landed a first-year residency.

A computer algorithm from the National Resident Matching Program matches the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs at teaching hospitals throughout the country. The students from traditional medical schools such as UC apply for the available residency positions along with thousands of independent applicants, including osteopathic students and graduates of foreign medical schools. Overall, more than 41,000 individuals applied for more than 30,000 residency slots across the country.

“We are extremely proud of this year’s Match Day group,” said Mark Servis, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and senior associate dean for medical education at the UC Davis School of Medicine. “This is the future of medicine, caring individuals with a passion for health care and a desire to develop their clinical skills to the very best of their abilities. As I told them before they opened their envelopes, ‘It’s not where you match that is most important, it’s what you do in caring for your patients and working with others that is the key to your success and the ultimate accomplishment as a physician.’”

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Medical school open house targets region’s future doctors


UC Riverside event is geared to high school, college students interested in medical career.

UC Riverside medical students will participate in hands-on demonstrations during the School of Medicine open house.

By Jessica Kump, UC Riverside

The UC Riverside School of Medicine is hosting an open house on Saturday, May 16, for community members interested in exploring what it’s like to be a UCR medical student. Medical school leadership, faculty and students will lead sessions and demonstrations focused on what it takes to get into medical school, the admissions process and key aspects of the medical student experience.

The open house runs from 8 a.m to 12 p.m. at the UCR School of Medicine Education Building. It is free and open to individuals and groups, but RSVPs are requested. Complimentary parking will be available in Parking Lot 13.

Scheduled activities during the open house include a panel discussion with medical school students, basic life saving demonstrations, simulation lab demonstrations, and an admissions discussion with medical school leadership.

Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs Neal Schiller said he looks forward to leading the admissions discussion.

“Every outreach event in our community shows me how much potential exists in our region’s future generations,” he said. “I look forward to seeing many faces light up when they realize they can become doctors, they can succeed here. I know many of those faces will come through our doors years later, donning a fresh white coat, ready to begin.”

The event will also showcase the Practice Improvement Projects completed by first-year medical students, which are part of their early work toward improving the health of their community. The projects study specific aspects of healthcare delivery identified by the students, who then develop proposals to improve the effectiveness of patient care and patient health outcomes. All first-year medical students will be present at the event to discuss their work, present their findings and receive evaluations from distinguished medical school faculty.

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UC health deans join nationwide coalition for climate change training


White House hosts roundtable discussion about climate change and health.

Deans from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Francisco are among a coalition of deans from 30 medical, nursing and public health schools nationwide committed to ensuring the next generation of health professionals are trained to effectively address all of the health risks their patients and communities face from climate change.

Several of these deans also participated in a roundtable discussion on April 9 about climate change and health with White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese and other senior administration officials.

Bruce Wintroub, M.D., interim dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, and David Vlahov, R.N., Ph.D., dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, joined the other deans in signing on to the training commitment statement, which builds on leadership of many educators around the country that already have begun incorporating climate change into their respective programs.

Over the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and some communities of color. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries.

UCSF has been proactive in working to address concerns about our impact on the environment and in communicating ongoing efforts to improve the world in which we live. A June 2014 summit by the UCSF Office of Sustainability led to ideas on sustainability and environmental impact. In addition, Vlahov has advocated for nurses to think globally and act locally, as well as take an active role in bringing this issue to the public’s attention and advocate change.

“We have been early advocates for addressing the effects of climate change in our educational programs,” Vlahov said. “Having a community of academic institutions advocating together and acting to move on education will move us all forward.”

Julie Freischlag, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, was among those who participated in the April 9 roundtable discussion.

“It was a great honor and privilege for the UC Davis School of Medicine to have a seat at the White House roundtable,” said Freischlag. “Social responsibility and advocating for public policies that benefit the health of our patients, the community we serve and society at large are longstanding values at UC Davis. We look forward to examining our own curriculum for opportunities to address the effect of climate change on human health, and to working with our academic colleagues and the White House on making a difference on a national scale.”

Also making commitments are the public health schools of UC Berkeley and UCLA.

In addition to the four UC campuses, other schools signing the training commitment statement are Howard University, Des Moines University, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, Drexel University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, University of Pittsburgh, Tulane University, University of Washington, Yale University, Emory University, University of Maryland-Baltimore, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University.

The roundtable event was part of a series of National Public Health Week announcements by President Obama to reduce the health impacts of climate change on Americans.

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UC Davis to host town hall on proposed school of population, global health


Event will be April 16 in Sacramento.

By Carole Gan, UC Davis

A town hall meeting to discuss the proposed UC Davis School of Population and Global Health will be held on Thursday, April 16, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Education Building, 4610 X St., Room 1204, in Sacramento.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi recently assigned Kenneth Kizer the responsibility to lead an effort to create a new School of Population and Global Health at UC Davis. Kizer is the director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System and a distinguished professor at the School of Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Kizer also serves as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice.

Katehi asked Kizer to explore the creation of the new school based on a recognition of the trans-disciplinary approaches needed to address growing health challenges resulting from changing demographics, greater global connectivity, climate and other environmental changes, new technologies and modern society itself.

The proposed school envisions aligning education and training in human and animal health sciences, agriculture, environmental and life sciences, and the social sciences to better prepare leaders, scholars and practitioners to address the many health challenges of an increasingly crowded and connected planet.

Those planning on attending should RSVP by April 9 to Kathleen MacColl at kcmaccoll@ucdavis.edu or (916) 734-7722.

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New reality of California ‘DREAMers’ takes shape at UCSF


Three undocumented immigrants chosen to join UCSF School of Dentistry’s class of 2019.

By Marc Fredson, UC San Francisco

José Carrasco Sandoval, Laura Aguilar and Angie Celis typify the caliber of talent UC San Francisco attracts. These California residents are standout students and want to give back to their communities after they graduate. All three have been chosen to join the School of Dentistry’s class of 2019.

Unlike most of their peers, all three are “DREAMers,” a term used to describe undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 who entered the United States before the age of 16 and have lived continuously in the country for at least five years while staying out of legal trouble. Those who meet these criteria outlined by the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act are often referred to as “DREAMers.”

Carrasco Sandoval, Aguilar and Celis’ acceptance and enrollment at UCSF represent a particular milestone in the midst of shifting political winds. They will join Jirayut Latthivongskorn, a first-year DREAMer student in the School of Medicine.

“I was always hopeful that this day would come,” said Celis, who was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the San Fernando Valley with her family when she was two. “It took me longer to make it, but now I’m here.”

“Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” said Carrasco Sandoval, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in molecular and cell biology. “I also knew from an early age that our family had a special condition we called sin papeles, which means ‘without papers’ in Spanish, and that realizing my dream would be a challenge without having legal citizenship.” His parents left their native Jalisco, Mexico, and settled down in Napa when he was 2 years old.

Aguilar’s story is similar to Celis’ and Carrasco Sandoval’s. Her parents also made Napa their home after leaving Guadalajara, Mexico, when she was four. “I’ve wanted to be a dentist since I was young but remember thinking it didn’t seem possible because of my status,” she said. “I decided to just keep trying and to stay positive.”

The door to their dreams edged open with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a new American immigration policy implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012. The policy allows certain immigrants — otherwise known as “DREAMers,” to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.

Because of DACA, “for the first time, I could apply for programs, internships, jobs, scholarships and financial aid to help pursue my professional goals,” Aguilar said. “Not to mention simpler things like getting a driver’s license, establishing credit and opening a bank account.”

UCSF has a long-standing commitment to building a broadly diverse student community. As such, its leadership, faculty and staff work hard to create programs that provide additional support for students from underrepresented groups.

“Students with diverse backgrounds, such as those with DACA status, bring an important component to the University,” said John D.B. Featherstone, Ph.D., dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry. “One of my highest priorities is that we do everything possible to open the doors to dental education for the best and the brightest, regardless of their social or economic backgrounds.”

All three dreamers are products of the UC system. Carrasco Sandoval and Aguilar pursued their undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, respectively, while Celis received a Master of Science degree in oral biology from UCLA.

As an initial introduction to UCSF, Aguilar attended the Office of Diversity and Outreach’s “Inside UCSF” program, an annual two-day event geared toward students at two- and four-year degree schools who are interested in pursuing careers in health and science. “The students and faculty I met at ‘Inside UCSF’ were very inspiring, welcoming and supportive,” she said. “They encouraged us to keep working and made us aware of available resources.”

Carrasco Sandoval enrolled in a first-of-its-kind post-baccalaureate program offered by the School of Dentistry. “The purpose of the program is to help those who have demonstrated the ability to overcome hardship and who we think will ultimately be successful here,” said James Betbeze, assistant dean for enrollment management and outreach at the School of Dentistry.

“These students are three of the brightest, most driven individuals I’ve encountered,” said Daniel Ramos, D.D.S., Ph.D., a professor at the UCSF School of Dentistry who supported them through the process. “They’ve overcome insurmountable odds to be in a position to be able to help the community from which they came.

“DACA students are often particularly committed to underserved populations, because they may grow up in communities without ready access to dental care. They personally understand those challenges and have an inherent motivation to try and address them.”

Celis plans to continue being an activist in the immigrant community. “I feel an obligation to help the underserved community and to use my experience to help those who have hopes and dreams of going into higher education,” she said.

Carrasco Sandoval envisions working in a community dental practice. “At some point, I’d like to be a director for a community clinic, where I can help low-income and immigrant populations,” he said.

When Aguilar volunteered at a health clinic in Riverside, “I saw the adversities that others face and realized how lucky I was to have parents that supported my education,” she said. “I saw huge disparities, not just in health, but in education and in the way that people’s lives played out.” Aguilar tentatively plans to be a general dentist, and is also considering specializing in periodontics.

“The incredible and proud accomplishments of these students demonstrate that their aspirations go beyond the pursuit on an undergraduate degree,” said Alejandra Rincón, Ph.D., chief of staff to the vice chancellor of diversity and outreach, and an author of a book focused on undocumented immigrants’ access to higher education. “We welcome these students and congratulate their families as they enter this new face of their professional lives.”

Like other young people with DACA status, Carrasco Sandoval, Aguilar and Celis see themselves as more than future dentists. Because of their backgrounds and the opportunities they’ve been given, each seeks to make life better for others.

“I’ve seen the good that comes from when someone believes in you and gives you a chance,” said Aguilar. “It has shaped the kind of role model I want to become.”

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UCLA’s Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program among first to be accredited


Prospective applicants are urged to apply by April 1.

By Roxanne Moster, UCLA

UCLA’s Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, providing the innovative subspecialty with key support as it earns broader recognition. In receiving accreditation, UCLA becomes one of only seven programs nationwide to earn approval from that important sanctioning body to date.

“We’re fortunate to be among the programs that will pioneer clinical informatics training, helping to establish the new subspecialty’s role in transforming health care,” said Dr. Douglas Bell, professor of medicine at UCLA and program director of the new fellowship.

Clinical informatics involves the application of both biomedical knowledge and information management to improve health care. Physicians who practice this growing scientific discipline strive to improve and transform health care by analyzing, designing, implementing and evaluating information and communication systems that enhance individual and population health outcomes, improve patient care, and strengthen the patient/clinician relationship.

“The UCLA fellowship program received accreditation just a year after planning and development began,” said Kevin Baldwin, specialist in IT engagement and quality improvement for UCLA Health and the program administrator.

Baldwin added that accreditation elevates UCLA to the vanguard of clinical informatics training.

“This program puts us at the forefront of informatics nationally, and we’re excited to continue building our leadership in the field,” he said.

The field of clinical informatics came into sharp focus in 2011 when the American Board of Medical Specialties approved it as a new, board-eligible subspecialty. Beginning in 2018, board eligibility in clinical informatics will require completion of a fellowship program that is accredited by the ACGME. Currently, fewer than 800 physicians around the country are board-certified in clinical informatics.

With accreditation now complete, UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have begun seeking candidates for two clinical informatics fellowship positions. Physicians from around the country are expected to apply, and fellows will be chosen in April. The two-year fellowship positions, both of them open to graduates of residency programs in any medical specialty, will begin in July 2015.

“It is exciting and humbling for UCLA Health to be part of the initial group of programs around the country that will offer this innovative and impactful fellowship in clinical informatics,” said Dr. Michael Pfeffer, chief medical informatics officer and acting chief information officer for UCLA Health. “We have a diverse, board-certified clinical informatics faculty ready to train the country’s future leaders in informatics.”

The goal of UCLA’s fellowship program is to train physicians in the principles and practice of clinical informatics, preparing them to lead the way in implementing health information technology systems as well as in research that advances the discipline.

“Clinical informatics is the scientific discipline focused on how we can deliver knowledge and information precisely where it’s needed in health care,” said Bell. “By learning to conduct rigorous research as well as to manage health IT systems, our fellows will close the gap between informatics research and practice by conducting research that’s embedded in and that directly informs clinical informatics practice.”

As they investigate how health care IT systems impact the delivery of care, fellows will focus on real-world problems such as the fatigue that physicians and nurses face as more and more devices capable of tracking patient data bombard them with information.

Fellows will complete a training program that includes:

• Clinical rotations, which involve four-week assignments to working units of the UCLA Health Information Services and Solutions Department. The department was responsible for UCLA Health being named among the nation’s “most wired” by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine.
• Didactics, including case studies and course work presented by expert faculty and covering a challenging core curriculum.
• An individualized, mentored research project based upon personal career objectives and informatics challenges that fellows identify during clinical rotations.
• Dedicated time to practice in the fellow’s specialty.

“As much as possible, we incorporated practical experience into this program in order to equip the fellows with the skills necessary to flourish in the physician workforce immediately after certification in this specialized field.” Baldwin said. “These early fellows are innovators. I see them going out and having a big impact nationally across the health system.”

At least some graduates are expected to fill the role of chief medical information officer within health care delivery organizations, serving as a bridge between the physician team and IT workforce to ensure that IT systems are implemented appropriately.

“Clinical informatics is critical to the success of technology in health care, whether it involves electronic health records, imaging informatics or shaping policy on how technology is used,” Pfeffer said. “As board-certified physicians in the specialty of their choosing, and as active clinicians using technologies in real time, they will be able to apply their knowledge from the fellowship to develop new and user-friendly ways for technology to help clinicians take better care of patients.”

Prospective applicants are urged to complete an online application at www.uclahealth.org/ClinicalInformaticsFellowship by April 1. Questions should be emailed to: CIFellowship@mednet.ucla.edu.

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Film camp offers hope for pediatric cancer patients


UC Riverside senior, cancer survivor seeking support at April 2 screening to expand program.

Cassie Nguyen, a senior public policy major and brain cancer survivor, will introduce her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp to the community on April 2.

By Bettye Miller, UC Riverside

Brain cancer. Not the diagnosis Cassie Nguyen was expecting as a sophomore at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School. Neither was the debilitating surgery that saved her life.

Today, Nguyen is an honor student and School of Public Policy ambassador at the University of California, Riverside, where she will graduate in June. She is a 10-year cancer survivor, American Cancer Society advocate, and the creator of Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free filmmaking program for pediatric cancer patients that until now has been held only in Los Angeles.

Nguyen hopes to bring the film camp to UC Riverside and the Inland Empire, and is screening short films written and produced by pediatric cancer patients in the program on Thursday, April 2, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 367. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is free in Lot 1; pick up parking permits at the Kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made online. The screening is co-sponsored by University Honors and the Women’s Resource Center.

The Riverside resident said she hopes the screening will generate support to expand the program to the Inland Empire. She hopes eventually to establish a nonprofit foundation and offer film camps across the country.

Approximately 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., and about 25 percent of them die, Nguyen said. Although Spotlight On Hope Film Camp does not reduce the death rate, it does provide a therapeutic outlet for pediatric cancer patients, she explained.

“I know how boring the hospital scene is,” Nguyen said, recalling the surgery to remove the tumor from her brain, a year of radiation and chemotherapy, and physical therapy to learn to write with her left hand and regain mobility to address ongoing balance and difficult vision issues. “I wanted to do something to help kids take their minds off what was happening to them and give them something to look forward to.”

Nguyen suggested the film camp for young cancer patients while working as an intern for Think Ten Media Group, a production company based in Castaic that aims to use the power of media to create change and spread awareness of key issues.

She raised $700 to cover production costs of the first camp, held in September 2013, by selling plastic cancer bracelets to UCR faculty and students, family and friends in her junior year. She dedicated the first film camp to a younger cousin who died of sarcoma cancer at age 14.

Think Ten Media Group co-founders and filmmakers Ramon Hamilton and Jennifer Fischer helped Nguyen develop the Spotlight On Hope Film Camp for pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as part of their company’s arts education program. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television hosts the camp in Los Angeles.

When the film camp proved to be successful, Nguyen applied for and won a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation in 2014, which funded 10 more film camps at UCLA. The foundation awards $10,000 scholarships to as many as 15 California college juniors annually to support public-service projects that the students carry out during their senior year.

Spotlight On Hope Film Camp allows patients to explore the art of green screen and special effects film-making while working in groups to create a short, green screen and special effects film. The participants, who range in age from 8 to 22, also learn about story/character development, camera technique, video and FX editing during three days of weekend classes.

“Being a pediatric patient myself, I understand how valuable a creative therapeutic outlet can be in the midst of your long, dreadful and difficult journey battling cancer,” Nguyen explained. “Spotlight On Hope Film Camp can help children live in a fantasy world that allows them to get away from all their troubles and create lasting memories.”

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Registration opens for UC Global Health Day


Feb. 27 is submission deadline for student video and student plenary contests.

Early-bird registration is now open for UC Global Health Day, April 18 at UCLA.

Presented by the UC Global Health Institute, UC Global Health Day is an annual conference that showcases the research, training and outreach in global health being undertaken across the University of California.

This event is an opportunity for UC students, fellows, faculty, staff and visiting scholars to share their current work in global health. The day will feature plenary sessions, posters and concurrent breakout sessions covering a broad range of global health topics.

For those who register before March 20, registration costs $50 for general admission and $25 for students. For those who register between March 21 and April 14, registration costs $75 for general admission and $50 for students. To register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/uc-global-health-day-2015-tickets-15838746116.

UC Global Health Day also will feature a student video contest and student plenary contest. The submission deadline for those contests is at 11:59 p.m. today (Feb. 27).

Read more at the UC Global Health Institute website

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Laughter is the best medicine for jittery dental students


Comedy improv class helps them communicate with patients.

By Brianna Aldrich and Judy Lin, UCLA

Seven students in a classroom at the UCLA School of Dentistry are cracking each other up.

In a course far removed from “The Fundamentals of Caries” and “Oral Pathology,” dental students pair off and take turns improvising scenes based on characters and situations suggested by their instructor and fellow classmates. Two students role-play madcap bank robbers. Another pair pretends to be obsessive-compulsive campers gushing over the high thread count of their bed sheets. Then there are the lovers who, stunned at the revelation that they have syphilis, respond by microwaving popcorn and tuning into Netflix.

It’s all part of the silliness that surfaces in “Medical Improv,” a highly unusual class that teaches dental students how to implant a bit of comedy improv into their personas. But it isn’t laughter they’re after, explained instructor Dr. Craig Woods.

Woods’ students don’t learn to perform funny routines to help their patients get rid of their pre-procedure jitters. To the contrary, the techniques they learn in class help them as dentists to “come out of themselves, be a little more relaxed and confident,” Woods said, especially when they start to work with live patients in the dental clinic for the first time.

Third-year student Roya Mahmoodi said she’s already noticed a change in her chair-side manner. “When I first started in the clinic, I was very caught up in what I would say to my patient. I thought I had to have this very serious persona,” she said. “But being in this class — letting loose and just being silly — I’ve started bringing out my personality. I can kind of joke around with my patients, and I feel closer to them.

“There should always be a doctor-patient professional relationship,” Mahmoodi said, “but you can definitely tweak that relationship a little bit.”

Woods is as unusual as his class. He’s an adjunct professor of oral medicine and orofacial pain, director of the Advanced Treatment Planning Clinic and the dental school’s psychological counselor with an M.A. in clinical psychology on top of his D.D.S. He’s also a cast member of JumpStart Comedy, a Hermosa Beach-based troupe.

He got hooked on doing improv when, on a whim, he took a workshop about five years ago and liked it so much he enrolled in ImprovOlympic, a training program that also produced Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

“I was amazed at the number of parallels there are in improv comedy to interacting with patients,” Woods said. “Improv comedy became a way to release stress and to enhance my skills at picking up on other people’s emotional cues in my professional life.”

His class is based in part on the Medical Improv program developed by Dr. Katie Watson, a physician educator at Northwestern University’s medical school. She’s also a trainer for Second City’s comedy improv program in Chicago. After Woods took a workshop with Watson, he decided to create a dental-school version to help the many bright students he has seen suffer self-confidence meltdowns in the clinics.

“Something happens when they get into their clinical instruction, where they have to interact with patients and perform a procedure while being supervised by faculty evaluating everything they do,” Woods said. “Their command of the situation falls apart.”

Gaining that sense of “command” is often less about taking charge and more about going with the flow, a skill that Woods gets across with exercises like “Search and Toss.” Standing in a circle, students “toss” the name of a country to another student, who “tosses” the name of another country to another student until everyone has a turn. Then Woods asked them to continue with the country names but weave in a second layer, this time with car names, and then a third layer with something they might tell a patient at the end of an appointment.

“Canada … Honda … Remember to floss.” “Austria … Chevy … Call me if you have any problems” went the dizzying exercise, the students starting to sweat – and giggle — as they as they struggled to keep track.

In dentistry, it’s a familiar feeling, Woods said. “You’re juggling different things — seeing your patient, working with faculty and hearing from the front office that your next patient is waiting. Be open to crazy things coming up. Expect the unexpected” — like encountering a patient who swears she isn’t afraid of dentists but starts to cry the moment she sits down in the chair.

“You’re doing surgery in someone’s mouth,” Woods said. “You have to convince them that they need to allow you to put a drill in their mouth that’s going 400,000 rpm. You have to come across as being able to do that, and they have to have confidence and trust in you.”

Key to building trust is having deep listening skills that pick up not just words but emotional affect and body language. Confidence also comes through in clear, succinct communication. “Students have a tendency to ramble when they’re not comfortable,” said Woods, who took students through a scene where one explained a form of modern technology — an iPhone, for example — to another student who pretended to be a time-traveler from 250 years ago. The result: a huge download of incomprehensible information.

Keegan Quadros, a fourth-year student, commented that the exercise reminded him of talking with a patient about a procedure. “He doesn’t want to know everything … He just wants to know what it is, what it costs and what I recommend.”

International dental students taking the class report that it’s helped them better understand American culture and humor.

Reena Guttha, a student from India, said she’s been working with a patient who likes to “crack jokes with me. But I don’t get it,” she said. “He knows that I don’t get it, and he’s okay with that. But I will enjoy my work more when I can communicate with patients like him and their sense of humor.”

Woods said he would like to expand the class to include medical and nursing students to enhance teamwork among medical professionals.

“Life is improvised,” Woods said. “Everyone could benefit from a course like this.”

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