Press release

L.A. Care Announces Eight Recipients of $350,000 in Medical School Scholarships
Part of a Physician Recruitment Initiative to Serve L.A. County’s Most Vulnerable

Los Angeles – L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly-operated health plan in the country, held a “white coat” ceremony today to announce the eight students receiving full medical school scholarships of up to $350,000 through the plan’s Elevating the Safety Net initiative, which also launched today. 

The initiative targets the growing shortage of primary care physicians that threatens the Los Angeles County safety net — those facilities and practices that serve the uninsured, Medi-Cal members and other vulnerable populations. The L.A. Care Board of Governors committed up to $31 million for the initiative, which is comprised initially of three grant programs. One will provide medical school loan repayments to physicians recruited to work in L.A. County’s safety net. Another will provide grants to safety net clinics and private practices for salary subsidies, sign-on bonuses and/or relocation costs for such recruits. 

The L.A. Care Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program is the third program.

Most med students say they chose the field because they wanted to help people, but altruism takes a major hit when students leave med school with a loan payment the size of a mortgage. These scholarships relieve them of that burden.

–John Baackes
CEO, L.A. Care Health Plan

Four of the scholarships are going to medical school students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA: Nguyen Pham, Alma Lopez, Tracy Nguyen and Kaylin Gonzalez.

“Scholarship support at this level allows students in David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to pursue careers and serve communities that matter deeply to them,” said Kelsey C. Martin, the school’s dean. “Nearly half of our graduates are training for careers in primary care, and the majority remain in California for their residency training. We are proud to be ranked No. 4 in the nation among medical schools in primary care in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report survey of best graduate schools. These scholarships from L.A. Care Health Plan align perfectly with UCLA’s commitment to better health in our communities now and in the future.” 

Four of the scholarships are going to medical school students at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science: Felipe Ocampo, Micaela Torres, Yesenia Leon and Parris Diaz.

“We are honored and grateful for CDU’s partnership with L.A. Care that has resulted today in these four medical school scholarships,” said CDU President and CEO David M. Carlisle, MD, PhD.  “These scholarships are evidence of the commitment we share with L.A. Care to serve under-resourced communities and to work for health equity for all.” 

In addition to the “white coat” ceremony, young children presented the scholars with L.A. Care stethoscopes. The scholars also toured a mobile clinic on site, which gave them a feel of what their work might include one day.

Watch our video of the Elevating the Safety Net launch

About L.A. Care Health Plan

L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™,  Medi-CalL.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.

Media Contact:
Penny Griego
213.694.1250 x 4560
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