General Medical Disciplines Department of Medicine

Primary Care Associate Program

The Primary Care Associate Program, under the direction of Lucinda Hirahoka, FNP, PA-C, MPH, has a mission to prepare physician assistants for primary care practice in underserved communities of California. The Program has a decentralized network serving different geographical areas of the state, including six targeted regional sites in Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Monterey, San Diego and Ventura Counties. About half of our students come from those regions, with the remainder from the San Francisco Bay area and other communities.

Students enter the Program with an average of five or more years of academic experience and eight or more years of clinical experience. Students build on their academic and clinical backgrounds and life experiences in a 21-month curriculum focused on primary care. The Program emphasizes diversity with an average class enrollment of about 40% underrepresented minority students. Over 1000 graduates practice mostly in California, the majority in primary care and underserved settings. The Program has an articulation with St. Francis University program, awarding a Master of Medical Science (MMS) for students who elect advanced study. Recently a special focus has been developed to prepare students and graduates for roles in subspecialty practice at SUMC.


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