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UC Irvine medical students in the PRIME-LC program.

Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community

The Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) is a five-year MD/Master’s program that is committed to training physicians to meet the needs of under-resourced Latino communities.

Established by the UC Irvine School of Medicine in 2003, PRIME-LC offers an enhanced medical school curriculum that includes coursework emphasizing leadership, advocacy and service. The program includes coursework from the School of Social Sciences and the School of Medicine, experiential learning opportunities throughout California, an international clinical rotation, as well as completion of a master’s degree.  

Each year, PRIME-LC admits about 12 Spanish-speaking students who go on to practice in a wide array of medical specialties.

Read a welcome message from PRIME-LC director Charles P. Vega, MD ›


Curriculum at a Glance »

Our five-year PRIME-LC curriculum at a glance:

UC Irvine's PRIME-LC Program's curriculum at a glance


Pre-MS1 Summer Immerson Program »

Education for the PRIME-LC program starts one month before the traditional medical school curriculum. The goals of this program are to expose students to health conditions in California’s Latino communities and to engage them on their path toward becoming physician leaders and advocates for the Latino community. 

Tuition, fees and travel costs are covered by the program.

Immersion program experiences include:

PRIME-LC students visit the state capitol in Sacramento to advocate for improving healthcare disparities and learn about healthcare policy.   PRIME-LC students visit the state
  capitol in Sacramento to advocate
  for improving healthcare disparities
  and learn about healthcare policy.

A historic photo of a cemetery at the U.S.-Mexico border.   PRIME-LC students visit U.S.-Mexico
  border to learn about immigration
  politics and regulation. Activities
  include interviewing day laborers and
  a visit to a border cemetery with
  Border Angels, a local nonprofit.

PRIME-LC student interviews a farmworker in the Central Valley.   PRIME-LC students learn about rural
  healthcare by interviewing migrant
  farmworkers as well as shadowing
  physicians at rural clinics in the
  Central Valley.

PRIME-LC students also create a longitudinal project tht addresses an aspect of healthcare for the underserved Latino community. This group project begins the summer before medical school coursework and continues throughout the medical school experience. Learn more about our longitudinal project ›

"The summer program is one of the highlights of my UC Irvine experience. It was the best possible way for me to become engaged with the mission of PRIME-LC, and it is invaluable to feel like you enter your first year of medical school already knowing you have great friends and faculty support.”
— David Bustillo, PRIME-LC Class of 2021.

PRIME-LC medical student David Bustillo

View a sample pre-MS1 summer schedule ›


Chicano-Latino Studies Course »

For the first three years of the PRIME-LC program, Chicano-Latino Studies classes provide students with a different perspective as a complement to the traditional medical school curriculum.

Classes are taught in small group discussion sessions, which allows students to participate in robust conversations on important issues regarding Latino culture and healthcare.

Professors from the School of Social Sciences with expertise in anthropology and social ecology help students think critically about the complicated issues of race, culture and identity that are always present in healthcare. The first class begins during the pre-MS1 summer session and is taught in Spanish. Subsequent classes are taught in English.

International Clinical Rotation »

Immediately after their third year, PRIME-LC students travel to Peru for a four-week international clinical rotation. While there, medical students see patients working alongside resident and attending physicians. They also gain exposure to tropical medicine.

In Peru, students are exposed to a variety of clinical scenarios and advanced pathology they wouldn't generally encounter in their clinical rotations. Instruction from outside clinical faculty gives students greater understanding, not only of tropical medicine, but also of cultural factors and socio-economic determinants of health that influence populations.

View PRIME-LC students' experiences in Peru:


Masters' Degree Year »

The PRIME-LC curriculum includes one year dedicated solely to a master's program of the student's choice. This takes place between the third and fourth year of medical school.

Some of the most popular disciplines include the master's program in Public Health (MPH), the master's program in Business Administration (MBA), the master's program in Public Policy (MPP) and the master's program in Biomedical and Translational Science (MS-BATS).

However, students are encouraged to pursue a degree in any program that will help them further their career in caring for the underserved. Students aren't limited to degrees offered through UC Irvine. Many of our alumni have traveled to prestigious institutions throughout the nation for their master’s program.

"I'm so thankful to PRIME-LC for allowing me the opportunity to receive an MPH along with my medical degree. Through my master's degree, I am learning to work with a multidisciplinary mindset by connecting with people around the world and I am gaining the tools to address the systemic issues my patients face."
— Kara Percival, who received her master's in Public Health from Harvard University

PRIME-LC medical student Kate Percival

"I've always had an interest in business, and I wanted to learn how it could be used for a social good. My MBA helped me to understand the structure of the healthcare system, and PRIME-LC taught me to be compassionate and thoughtful in my approach to my patients."
— Caleb Shumway, who received his master's in Business Administration from UC Irvine

PRIME-LC medical student Caleb Shumway
About PRIME-LC Graduates »

PRIME-LC began with eight medical students the summer of 2004. To date, we have had more than 130 participants in the program, and more than 75 physicians have graduated

PRIME-LC welcomes its students to select whichever medical specialty they prefer. Among the residencies most commonly chosen by our medical students here's a breakdown by discipline:

  • 40 percent — Family Medicine
  • 15 percent — Emergency Medicine
  • 13 percent — Pediatrics
  • 11 percent — Internal Medicine
  • 7 percent — Psychiatry
  • 7 percent — Obstetrics-Gynecology
  • 4 percent — General Surgery

Some of our PRIME-LC students have also selected Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery. Others have gone on to complete a PhD in Medical Ethics.

This means more than 90 percent of PRIME-LC graduates choose fields where the needs of the community are most pressing and where the opportunities to serve are greatest.

Meet a few PRIME-LC alumni who are continuing PRIME-LC’s mission:

"PRIME-LC prepared me to work with Latino patients, but more important, it allowed me to develop my leadership and analytic skills. PRIME-LC supported me in my love of Public Health. I was able to take an extra year to learn about public health and how to incorporate it into my practice.

"It has also created a massive supportive network of like-minded physicians throughout the state committed to improving the health of our underserved communities. I feel very supported by my fellow alumni and see PRIME-LC's influence all around me.”
— Karla Garcia, MD, MPH, Family Medicine, PRIME-LC Class of 2010
San Ysidro Health Center, Chula Vista

PRIME-LC graduate Karla Garcia

"PRIME-LC prepares and cultivates physicians who desire to work in communities where there are inherent obstacles that hinder access to medical services. Often these communities also have social issues that complicate medical disease process. One of the main reasons I selected Harbor-UCLA Medical Center as a training site is because of its underrepresented and underserved patient population.

"My medical training at UC Irvine was more than adequately supplemented by the social and cultural training that the PRIME-LC program provided. Furthermore, I have been able to extend this training to encompass all populations.”
— Ismael Corral, MD, MBA, Pediatrics, PRIME-LC Class of 2015
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance

PRIME-LC graduate Ismael Corral

"PRIME-LC became my home and family, where I received the support and training to achieve my dream to serve my community. With the skills and connections I developed — both as a medical student and in the PRIME-LC Family Medicine Residency Program — I’ve helped to develop the Health Scholars Program, a health professionals pipeline program mentoring more than 100 students in clinical and service-oriented projects in the highest-need areas of Orange County.

"As chief medical officer of Serve the People, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Santa Ana, I put my training to work every day, and help support the next generation of PRIME-LC students forge their own paths.”
— Marco Angulo, MD, MA, Family Medicine, PRIME-LC Class of 2011
Chief Medical Officer, Serve the People Health Center, Santa Ana

PRIME-LC graduate Marco Angulo

In the News

Your Interview Day »

On interview day, we want you to have a genuine understanding of what the PRIME-LC "familia" is all about. We hope you will open up and allow us to get to know you as well.

To accomplish this, we plan a few additional activities both before and after the regular school of medicine interviews.

You do NOT need to be Latino to apply for PRIME-LC. However, basic Spanish is a requirement, given the curriculum and target patient population.


The week before: Coordinate with medical student hosts and RSVP for pre- and post-interview events. If you ask to stay with a student host, we we will make our best effort to pair you with a PRIME-LC student before your interview.

The day before: A casual pre-interview dinner with the interviewees and current medical students. This event is optional, but we highly encourage your participation to get to know us.

The interview day: Expect a full day of activities! You will arrive at the School of Medicine at the same time as your fellow interviewees. Your schedule will be similar to the other applicants, starting with general information about the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

You should also expect an introductory meeting with PRIME-LC faculty members who will describe the program in more detail. You will also be able to ask questions.

Interviews: You will have the same interviews as other medical school applicants (usually one faculty and one student interview), plus one additional PRIME-LC interview.

PRIME-LC interview: The additional PRIME-LC interview gives you the opportunity to share y

our passion and motivation for choosing PRIME-LC. It also allows us to evaluate a candidate's language proficiency because part of this interview will be conducted in Spanish. Complete Spanish fluency is NOT a requirement of the program, however, applicants need a foundation in conversational Spanish.

The interview evening: At the end of the day, applicants have the opportunity to mingle with faculty and students at a relaxed wrap-up dinner. This allows further candid interactions and gives applications a chance to ask any additional questions. This event is also optional, but it is another great opportunity to learn more about the PRIME-LC community.

"Throughout my interview day, I was struck by how genuinely caring and welcoming the students and faculty were. Their dedication was obvious, and it made me confident that by choosing PRIME-LC, I would be entering a program where I would be 100 percent supported throughout my time in medical school."
— Briga Mullin, PRIME-LC Class of 2021

PRIME-LC medical student Briga Mullin
Application Process »

Remember, you do NOT need to be Latino to apply for PRIME-LC. However, basic Spanish is a requirement, given the curriculum and target patient population.

First, apply through the AMCAS application to the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

While filling out the secondary application, select the option to be considered for PRIME-LC.

Applicants must be selected for an interview with the School of Medicine before being selected for an interview with PRIME-LC.

The School of Medicine interview committee and the PRIME-LC interview committee will review your application.

Students must be accepted to the School of Medicine before being accepted to PRIME-LC.

PRIME-LC medical students on a visit to the state capital, Sacramento.

For more information, please contact PRIME-LC coordinator Lucero Zamudio at

Our Students »

PRIME-LC students come from many backgrounds and have their own unique stories. The rich diversity of our students is one of the biggest strengths of our program.

A few of our students describe why they were drawn to UC Irvine's PRIME-LC program:

"I grew up in east San Jose, a low-income and underserved area where I was raised by parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico 25 years ago. The disparities that my family and community have endured, along with my experiences as a emergency department scribe while I was an undergraduate student, gave me the desire to be an advocate for the underserved in medicine through education and health policy. I aspire to be a physician who is culturally and socially competent and who cares for all patients, regardless of their insurance, immigration or socioeconomic status. The flexibility in the PRIME-LC program will allow me to become a physician and advocate in any area of medicine I choose. By pursuing a master’s degree, I will gain further knowledge to better serve my future patients.”
— Carina Mireles-Romo, BS, Biology, Saint Mary's College of California
PRIME-LC Class of 2021

PRIME-LC student Carina Mireles-Romo

"The need for more culturally and socio-economically sensitive physicians is something I have observed and lived through. One of my goals is to improve the quality of care for people of all races and backgrounds in Los Angeles and the surrounding communities. As a bilingual Salvadoran-American and native of Los Angeles, I feel I can provide sensible and empathetic care to the Latino community. My desire to be a bridge between the Latino community and their healthcare providers will benefit greatly from the training that I will receive as a PRIME-LC student. PRIME-LC embodies qualities such as leadership, dedication to the underserved and familia! These are all qualities I want to emulate as a future physician.”
— Ezequiel Andrade, BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Cal State University Northridge
PRIME-LC Class of 2020

PRIME-LC student Ezequiel Andrade
Newsletters and Fact Sheets »

See updates on the latest activities and accomplishments of PRIME-LC students and alumni.

Fact Sheets

Get a sense of what PRIME-LC graduates are doing today, by the numbers.

Administration and Faculty »


Charles P. Vega, MD
Executive Director, PRIME-LC

John Billimek, PRIME-LC director of community engagement and administration

John Billimek, PhD
Director, PRIME-LC Community Engagement and Administration

Lucero Zamudio, administrator, Prime-LC Program

Lucero Zamudio-Fernandez
Program Coordinator, PRIME-LC

The most valuable part of that job was interacting with the participants and educating them on their health,” Maldonado says. “As I translated for them, I learned a lot about how their disease affects their vision. It was the education aspect that made me want to pursue medicine, because I understood that as a physician, you’re not only a provider but also an educator.

-Dania Maldonado, BA in social welfare from UC Berkeley, a student in UCI’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community.

Dania M.

Questions? View answers to frequently asked questions about our PRIME-LC program ›

For more information, please contact us at:

UC Irvine School of Medicine
Medical Education Building, 836
836 Health Sciences Road
Irvine, CA 92697-4089
Phone: 949-824-7136


Looking for PRIME-LC Academy? Visit the PRIME-LC Academy website.