One of UC Merced’s original students, Enid Picart — soon to graduate from the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME) — represented the San Joaquin Valley in a big way last week by attending the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., as the guest of Congressman Jim Costa.
Together, the two reminded people of the need for ongoing medical education in the Valley and of the dedication of many UC Merced alumni to give back to their communities.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to represent the Valley, specifically around the need for medical education,” said Picart, who grew up in Modesto and graduated from UC Merced with a bachelor’s of science in biological sciences in 2009. “I hope that my being here will inspire other pre-med students in the area to pursue their medical education and practice here as physician advocates.
“Being a physician in the Valley goes beyond the clinical work and into working closely with our communities and serving as mentors for the future physician generations to come.”
Costa, a longtime friend and supporter of UC Merced said he chose Picart to accompany him to see the president’s annual speech in the Capitol because of her dedication to the Valley.
“Enid has dedicated her career to improving healthcare for Valley residents. She represents the best of the Valley, and why the Expanding Medical Education Act, which I introduced last month, is key to closing the doctor shortage in the Central Valley,” he said. “We need more passionate people like Enid, who know our communities, to stay and commit to our future. With an investment in them, we can ensure every Valley resident has access to the healthcare they deserve.”
Costa’s Expanding Medical Education Act would provide $200 million dollars to establish medical training in areas of high need, with priorities for funding given to institutions such as UCSF-Fresno, that focus on diverse and medically deprived communities — communities such as those in the rural Valley where Picart wants to stay after graduation.
Giving back to help ensure the Valley’s health is not new to Picart, who helped found the In-Touch Community Health Initiative when she was an undergraduate. Some of the first class of students established the group to increase volunteerism, help build the community-university relationship, work with local nonprofits to get more health fairs going, and work on the idea of bringing a medical school to UC Merced.
She is a first-generation college student, and after earning her bachelor’s, went on to UC Davis and the PRIME Program. She will graduate in May as a physician, and said she is applying to complete her residency in the Valley.
“I’m hoping for UCSF Fresno,” Picart said. She participates in the Health and Education and Learning (HEAL) mobile clinic. “We work closely with UC Merced students, and I want to continue mentoring them and helping provide opportunities for students to volunteer in pre-med programs in the Valley.”
Attending the State of the Union during a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., Picart got to say hello to notable legislative leaders such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She said with Costa in the gallery during the State of the Union, and went to lunch with him the day after. The trip was an unexpected honor for Picart, who was in an anesthesia clinic when she got the call from Costa’s office.
“I hope that being there in Washington allowed me to represent the need for investing in students, such as myself, who have ‘las ganas’ — the will to pursue medicine regardless of the challenges we face,” she said. “Our communities mold us and teach us how we can best serve them, so let us not forget this and let us focus on how best we can help them thrive by addressing the physician shortage.”