California University of Science and Medicine Proudly Celebrates Inaugural Graduating Class of MD Students

University receives $10 million from Prime Healthcare Foundation to further address physician shortages, healthcare disparities in underserved communities

COLTON, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM), School of Medicine, celebrated its first graduation on May 21, 2022 as the inaugural class of 62 students received their medical degree. The ceremony featured a $10 million donation to the school from the Prime Healthcare Foundation, a commencement address from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, and a video address from California Governor Gavin Newsom and First Lady Jennifer Siebel Newsom sharing their support of the mission and students.

CUSM is one of the newest medical schools in the nation. CUSM was founded in 2015 by Dr. Prem Reddy through an initial $60 million contribution from the Prime Healthcare Foundation and through a unique public-private partnership with the County of San Bernardino and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, the University’s teaching hospital. During the commencement welcome to more than 700 graduates, faculty, family and friends, Executive Vice Dean Pete Eveland, EdD said, “None of this would have ever been possible without the remarkable generosity, humanitarian spirit, and desire to give back to this community by our founder and Chair of the Board, Dr. Prem Reddy.”

“CUSM was created to be a place that would inspire, motivate and empower the healthcare leaders of tomorrow, and dedicated to addressing our nation’s physician shortage, healthcare disparities, and advancing medicine in underserved communities,” said Dr. Reddy, who is also the Founder, Chairman, President and CEO of Prime Healthcare. Dr. Reddy added, “For me, this has been a life-long dream to give others the opportunity I was given. Medicine has the ability to change lives and therefore, change the world. We are honored to support your dreams, your future in medicine, and most importantly, your commitment to giving.”

During the commencement, Prime Healthcare Foundation President and Chair Dr. Kavitha Bhatia presented an additional $10 million donation to the University. The funds will be used to expand academic programs, support research, address healthcare disparities and support CUSM’s mission to improve healthcare in underserved communities.

“There has never been a time when healthcare has been more important, truly saving lives and shaping the future,” said Dr. Bhatia, who also serves as Founding Vice Chair of the Board of CUSM. “We have been unified in our commitment to selflessly and tirelessly serve others. It has reminded us that as physicians, we have a single calling, a calling that is much greater than ourselves. Today is a dream come true for so many. We imagined CUSM and the impact it can make to improve health, serve communities, and address healthcare disparities here and around the world. We are inspired by these physicians that will be changing the lives of so many.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was honored as the inaugural commencement speaker. “I want to congratulate all of you, the first CUSM class of 2022. I am tremendously honored to be here,” said Dr. Gupta.

Dr. Gupta shared a story of his work as a reporter in the Iraq war when a soldier was shot in the head, shattering his skull, and ultimately pronounced dead. After discovering a pulse, Dr. Gupta was asked to “take off his reporter’s hat and put on his surgeon’s hat, performing emergent neurosurgery in the middle of a war zone.” He addressed the graduates, “It was an incredible moment, a medical team coming together in the middle of a war doing something others had described as impossible. Changing a life. Saving a life. And graduates, you get to do that.” Dr. Gupta then recognized and honored the soldier and his family who were seated in the audience. The soldier received a standing ovation and proceeded to applaud every future physician as they were hooded. Among CUSM’s future physicians are captains of the US Army, Army National Guard and Air Force who will go on to make a difference in the lives of others.

Dr. Gupta continued, “Be humble. You are about to become the most important person in countless people’s lives, strangers to you now, but soon, people with whom you will share some of the most profound relationships of your life. It really is an enormous privilege to care for another human being at their most vulnerable time to restore them to health when their bodies have betrayed them.”

The U.S. faces a projected shortage of physicians. MD supply will not keep pace with demand in many specialties. CUSM now has 422 students, who are among the most talented and diverse medical students in the nation. Each year approximately 130 students are chosen from over 6,000 applications, with 27 percent the first in their family to attend University, 63 percent from California, and 39 percent socioeconomically challenged. CUSM students are not only among the most diverse in the nation but also among the most talented, scoring in the top 10 percent on the Medical College Admission Test (MCATs). One hundred percent of the CUSM MD class of 2022 were matched into residency programs with prestigious specialties and organizations.

“Being the first is a gift; it is a priceless and invaluable experience that can never be taken away or repeated,” said honors graduate Xi Chen, student commencement speaker. “We showed grace, finesse, and maturity through the unprecedented challenges. It is amazing to witness this class crush expectations and make history.”

“You were here first, blazing a trail that no one had ever traveled before, the inaugural MD class of CUSM,” said President & Dean Dr. Paul Lyons. “I knew you were a remarkable group from the moment I met you, which I can say with certainty has been an experience shared by everyone who has ever met you over the last four years. You were focused and mission oriented. You were committed to helping fulfill the vision of our founder, Dr. Prem Reddy, whose transformative gifts made CUSM possible.”

During the commencement, the University, Prime Healthcare Foundation, and the graduates were presented with congressional and legislative recognitions for outstanding achievements, visionary leadership, and service to the community. Majority Leader of the California State Assembly, Eloise Gomez Reyes, recognized Dr. Reddy, “You are a hero to us. You could have picked any community, and you picked my hometown, Colton, California. I thank you for all you have done for this community and these students. This accomplishment is a true testament of your dedicated commitment to excellence in education.” Other recognitions were received from Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh; Congresswoman Norma J. Torres; Congresswoman Judy Chu; Bill Ruh, Montclair Mayor Pro Tem and Prime Healthcare Foundation board member; and the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

The Prime Healthcare Foundation, headquartered in Ontario, California, is a public charity that owns 14 not-for-profit community-based hospitals. The mission of the Prime Healthcare Foundation is to provide quality, compassionate healthcare for all, and serve communities through charitable and educational initiatives.

About the California University of Science and Medicine

The California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) is dedicated to advancing the art and science of medicine through medical education, research, and compassionate healthcare delivery in an inclusive environment that inspires, motivates and empowers students to become excellent and caring physicians, scientists, and leaders. The California University of Science and Medicine is a not-for-profit health sciences university established in 2015, led by MD/PhD faculty members. CUSM offers a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program and a Master in Biomedical Sciences degree program to prepare its diverse student body for careers in healthcare, public service, teaching and research.

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Elizabeth Nikels