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PRIME-LC Frequently Asked Questions

The Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) is a five-year, dual-degree MD/Master’s program a the UC Irvine School of Medicine, It is dedicated to training physicians to meet the needs of underserved Latino communities through advocacy and leadership.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, organized by category:


Overview »

Q. What is the mission of PRIME-LC?

A: PRIME-LC's mission is to provide specialized training for future physicians who are committed to careers in public service. PRIME-LC graduates are expected to work on closing the healthcare gap of the nation's largest ethnic group by improving healthcare delivery, research and policy for California's underserved Latino communities.

Q. Do you have to be interested in being a primary care physician to be a PRIME-LC medical student?

A: No. PRIME-LC students are encouraged to go into any specialty that interests them. While many PRIME-LC graduates do end up in primary care fields (family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology), others choose surgery, internal medicine and emergency medicine, among others. To create a more comprehensive network of healthcare, it is important to have physicians in all fields who are informed about the needs of the state's Latino community.

Q. What financial support is available for PRIME-LC students?

A: Most PRIME-LC students come from an economically disadvantaged background. The program recognizes the financial burden associated with an extra year of PRIME-LC training. Therefore, PRIME-LC students are granted a $50,000 award during their MS-5 year to defray tuition and other expenses. PRIME-LC students also get preferred status for on-campus housing, which can further reduce expenses.


Curriculum »

Q. What additional courses do I need to take during medical school?

A: Medical students in the program take all required medical school courses. In addition, the special curriculum for PRIME-LC students begins approximately six weeks before the general curriculum, with a one-month immersion in Latino health, advocacy and outreach. PRIME-LC students also are required to take specialized Chicano/Latino Studies classes spread over the first three years of medical school to develop leadership skills.

Other courses, such as Clinical Foundations, have been modified to allow PRIME-LC students to work directly with Spanish-speaking patients. And PRIME-LC students complete a clinical rotation with Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, at the conclusion of their MS-3 year, prior to leaving for their master’s degree training in the MS-4 year.

Q. Is PRIME-LC a medical Spanish-language immersion program?

A: No, PRIME-LC is not a Spanish-language immersion program or an international medical program. The goal of PRIME-LC is to prepare competent physician-leaders to address the healthcare needs of California's underserved Latino communities.

Q. Do I take all the same courses as non-PRIME-LC students?

A: Yes. In addition to the PRIME-LC coursework described above, PRIME-LC students must meet all medical school requirements and are required to take all basic science and clinical courses.

Q. What community outreach opportunities are available to PRIME students, locally or interntionally?

A: You can have an amazing impact in Orange County. Our PRIME-LC students have worked with existing programs or created their own to promote healthier communities. Current projects include Orange County’s first needle-exchange program, a radio show on health issues airing in Santa Ana, mentorship of students from junior high through college, and multiple free clinics. There are more things to do than you will possibly have time for!

Q. Is the PRIME-LC program significantly harder than the normal MD program?

A: Unquestionably additional work is required of PRIME-LC students, in part because of the second degree but also because of the unique courses and activities related to our mission.

Across the board, however, our PRIME-LC students say they would not have it any other way. Our students are strongly committed to working with underserved Latino communities and they recognize that the unique training they receive is important to their future careers as physician-leaders in Latino communities.

Q. What regular PRIME-LC-sponsored events are hosted throughout the year?

A. PRIME-LC activities include a monthly lecture series with guest speakers from different fields who present material on a variety of topics affecting underserved populations and the clinicians who care for them.

Two retreats, including a meeting with students from all University of California PRIME programs, are held during the academic year. Another is the PRIME-wide conference


Master's Degree Year »

Q. What master's degrees options are currently available?

A. PRIME-LC students have pursued several different types of graduate degrees, the most popular being Public Health and Business Administration. Any degrees related to the mission of the PRIME-LC program will be considered with prior faculty approval.

PRIME-LC students can stay at UC Irvine to complete their master's degree program or go to any other university.

Q. Some master’s programs take more than one year to complete, is this OK?

A. Yes. Some students choose two-year master's degree programs. It is allowed. However, there is not an additional stipend for the extra time.


Application and Program Requirements »

Q. If I'm not accepted to the PRIME-LC program, does that affect my admittance to the regular medical school class?

A: No. Successful applicants are first admitted to the regular medical school class. If an applicant is accepted into PRIME-LC, he or she can decide to participate in the regular class or the PRIME-LC program without any consequences.

Each year we have new medical students who did not get accepted into the PRIME-LC program.

Q. Do I have to speak fluent Spanish to apply to PRIME-LC?

A: No. But applicants need to have a strong foundation at the beginning of the program to gain what they need from the curriculum. Language acquisition continues throughout the five-year, dual-degree program.

Q. What is the criteria for acceptance into the PRIME-LC program?

A: Accepted applicants must meet all requirements to UC Irvine School of Medicine, as well as those for the PRIME-LC program, which are:

  • Demonstrated commitment to community service, particularly in the Latino community
  • At least moderate Spanish language proficiency

Q. Do I need to be of Latino descent to apply to PRIME-LC?

A: No. Applicants from all backgrounds are welcome to apply to PRIME-LC.

Q. How do I apply to the PRIME-LC program?

A: Once your AMCAS application is verified and sent to UC Irvine School of Medicine. A selected group of applicants are invited to submit a secondary application. Check the PRIME-LC box in the secondary application and provide the additional information requested to apply to the program.

Q. Does PRIME-LC hold its own admission process?

A: Yes. Applicants accepted to UC Irvine School of Medicine who applied to PRIME-LC are considered for acceptance into the program by an admissions committee formed by PRIME-LC faculty and students.


For more information, please contact us at:

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