The University of California, Merced, today announced the appointment of Donald M. Hilty, M.D., to the position of co-director of the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education. The appointment is the latest step in the university's long-term plan to develop a medical education program leading to an independent medical school.
Hilty will work alongside Frederick J. Meyers, M.D., who was named executive director of medical education and academic planning at UC Merced in fall 2008.
Hilty is a professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Rural Program in Medical Education (Rural-PRIME) at UC Davis. Rural-PRIME is part of the University of California's "Programs in Medical Education," which is designed to produce physician leaders who are trained and committed to caring for the state's underserved communities. The UC Davis Rural-PRIME was created specifically to train the best medical students for fulfilling careers in rural communities. UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF also implement Programs in Medical Education.
"The appointment of Dr. Hilty represents another step on the pathway to developing an independent medical school at UC Merced," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "We remain committed to developing a research-based medical school as funding — both public and private — is secured. By educating and retaining the next generation of the state's physicians, UC Merced will play an important role in enhancing the long-term health of the region."
"I am delighted to join UC Merced's medical school planning team," Hilty said. "I look forward to applying my expertise — particularly in the areas of curricula development, interactive teaching and telemedicine to develop a medical education program at UC Merced."
Born and raised in rural Ohio in a town with a population of 800, Hilty completed his undergraduate education at Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. After earning his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine, he completed an internship and a fellowship in psychiatry at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where he also served as chief resident. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Planning for a medical school at UC Merced began before the arrival of undergraduate students at UC Merced in fall 2005. Following is a timeline of the progress to date:
Planning for a medical education program is ongoing. Meanwhile, UC Merced continues to develop its core academic and research programs, including the Health Sciences Research Institute , Valley Telehealth Project  and the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health Disparities in Rural and Ethnic Underserved Populations  (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
UC Merced already has existing majors that satisfy medical school preparatory requirements and, importantly, offer students degrees that will immediately prepare them for the workplace. In addition, a minor in public health was recently approved, which will focus on epidemiology, health disparities, biological mechanisms of disease, and statistical analysis.