SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras was at Upstate Medical on Wednesday to announce that the university system will be expanding its pre-medical opportunity program.

The program will now be doubling in size, starting next spring, and will allow for up to 50 students from the system's educational opportunity program to be part of pre-med coursework, which will help them get into SUNY's medical universities.

The Educational Opportunity Program helps disadvantaged students from underserved communities get access to, and do well in, undergraduate degreework.

SUNY’s Pre-Medical Opportunity Program helps to empower these students to pursue a graduate medical degree regardless of socioeconomic status.

Malatras says this program expansion will not only benefit students, but will fill a need for more medical professionals in the field.

"We got a first-hand look at what it means - they got extra support, they got to work with doctors, they're going to see a live surgery," Malatras said. "They get to experience those things, opportunities they never thought they had an opportunity to even see or witness, and I think that will allow us to get many more, and a more diverse, cross-section of our state into much needed medical programs. And we need more doctors, we need more nurses, we need more health professionals now more than ever."

The first class of 23 students was announced earlier this year and they completed their summer residency on Wednesday at SUNY Upstate Medical.