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UCR Med School students get a free ride … with a catch

Two students in the inaugural class at the University of California, Riverside’s School of Medicine are studying for free.

In exchange for having their tuition waived, Jonathan Pham and Jennifer Han will have to remain in the Inland Empire for at least five years after they complete their studies and begin practicing primary care, according to a report originally published in The Press-Enterprise.

One reason UC Riverside fought so hard and long to get a medical school is so that it could produce physicians who will work locally. The Inland region has one of the lowest rates of primary care doctors, per population, of any region in the United States, according to the report.

To reach that goal, the school – which welcomed its first class in August – is coming up with some imaginative scholarship packages. Dean G. Richard Olds said he hopes to have at least one student in each class studying for free in exchange for agreeing to practice locally for five years.

That agreement pays for a students yearly tuition of $35,000, plus fees, with the student required to pay for living expenses, according to the report.

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