NEWS | October 8, 2014

Student conference opens doors to health-care professions

(DAVIS, Calif.)

Leading voices in health care and some 8,000 pre-health and pre-medical students will meet to explore the future of health care and how the students can join and influence the professions at the University of California, Davis, Oct. 11-12.

Keynote speakers at the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professional National Conference — the largest conference of its kind in the country — include:

  • United States Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion;
  • U.S. Navy Surgeon General Matthew Nathan at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion;
  • California Department of Public Health Director Ronald Chapman at 10 a.m. Saturday in Rock Hall;
  • American Medical Association CEO James L. Madara;
  • National Hispanic Medical Association President and CEO Elena V. Rios;
  • American Osteopathic Association  President Robert S. Juhasz;
  • Harvey Fineberg, former president of the Institute of Medicine; and
  • presidents and CEOs of leading national organizations in the health professions.

See the complete list.

Making welcoming remarks at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion on the Davis campus will be Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor of Student Affairs at UC Davis, and UC President Janet Napolitano.

“At the University of California, we want to empower students from across our state to discover and achieve their dreams in health care and contribute to the care and welfare of their communities and society as a whole,” Napolitano said. "This conference is an opportunity for young students to spark their passions in the medical fields."

Organized by and for students

With the theme of "Empowering the Next Generation of Health Care Professionals," the conference aims to introduce students to careers and educational opportunities in health care and help them achieve their goals.

The conference is organized by the UC Davis Pre-Health Student Alliance with the support of de la Torre's office. The alliance is a partnership of pre-medical and pre-health student organizations, fraternities and sororities at UC Davis and other colleges in Sacramento. More than 400 students from throughout the region serve as leaders and volunteers for the conference.

Among those attending are high school, community college and university students; school counselors; and parents.

Broad range of health professions represented

The conference includes programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, public health, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, doctoral programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), physical therapy and occupational therapy.

It attracts deans and other representatives of some 600 health programs and offers more than 350 workshops on the breadth of career opportunities, preparing for admission exams, paying for medical school and more.

Among the conference activities:

  • A helicopter landing and equipment exhibition on the Hutchison Field at 2:30 p.m. Sunday will follow a session, offered by REACH Air Medical Services, on careers in transporting the critically ill.
  • Veterinarians and physicians will guide students as they try their hand at different suture techniques in four workshops at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday in Medical Sciences I C.
  • Students will be introduced to using ultrasound machines on volunteer human subjects under the supervision of emergency physicians from the UC Davis Health System in sessions at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday in Room 1309 of Surge III.
  • Pre-veterinarian students will practice grooming, haltering and handling horses in a workshop at the Equestrian Center from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.
  • Sonia Bell, president and founder of Avanti Sports Medicine and Fitness in San Francisco, will introduce students to the specialty of dance medicine. The doctor will use a ballerina to demonstrate the demands on a dancer's body in a session at  10 a.m. Sunday in Olson 244.
  • More than 600 programs will be represented at the Pre-Health Professions Fair on the Quad from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

Promoting diversity in health care

Brittany Derieg, chief of staff for the conference, said an important goal of the conference is to increase the number of historically underrepresented minorities entering medical school and other professional health-related programs.

Elena Rios of the National Hispanic Medical Association will speak at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday in the Pavilion. And session topics include health disparities, cultural humility, disability in medicine and men in nursing.

The conference has low-cost registration fees and accommodation packages, offered some 2,500 fee waivers and is subsidizing some housing and travel from 16 universities in California, Oregon and Nevada.

Registration, which is required, is still available. The conference program, including a full schedule, is available online.

About UC Davis and its health system

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

UC Davis Health System improves lives by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education and creating dynamic, productive community partnerships. It encompasses one of the country's best medical schools, a 619-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1,000-member physician practice group and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For information, visit