One-fifth of Californians live in rural areas, but less than 10 percent of physicians practice there—making that portion of the state’s population more vulnerable to chronic conditions, hospitalizations and cancer deaths than those who live in cities.
Thomas Nesbitt ’75, M.D. ’79 is committed to changing these disparities through the power of technology. Nesbitt, UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, is a prominent and pioneering leader in telehealth—a revolutionary technology that uses high-speed data links to connect rural patients with medical experts in urban hospitals.
Nesbitt founded UC Davis’ telemedicine program that has provided consultations for rural patients at more than 100 locations, and the Center for Health and Technology that has delivered telehealth training for more than 800 organizations. Nesbitt also helped launch a national-model state telehealth network, which promises to be a cornerstone of rural medicine in the future.
Nesbitt and his wife Lisa DeAmicis ’76, who has committed her career to advancing the quality of life for seniors in the City of Davis, are also improving rural care health through philanthropy. During The Campaign for UC Davis they endowed a scholarship for medical students in UC Davis’ Rural-PRIME program to help train doctors who will practice primary care in rural areas.
“Medical students incur large debt, and that can influence the decisions they make about what medical specialty to practice and where,” Nesbitt said. “To help eliminate geographic health disparities, we need more students to follow their passions and choose lower-paying specialties such as primary care and to practice in underserved areas.”
Nesbitt continued, “I have the opportunity every day to see the tremendous benefit to our students, our patients, and our community that results from the generous gifts of our supporters. This has inspired Lisa and me to make UC Davis one of the organizations we support.”