Our History

Our vision and mission are based on years of research



Founded in 1983 to advance the study and promotion of primary care, our organization has found the key to developing the primary care workforce is to start at the high school and college level. Over the years, research in community health has demonstrated significant healthcare disparities that result in poor health outcomes.

We target our efforts to build a more diverse healthcare workforce where the research demonstrates we can make the most difference: identifying and assisting undergraduate students that are most likely to practice in underserved communities.

In 1999 the Student Doctor Network was founded, which has grown to become the largest website for pre-health and health students across the US and Canada. We have helped hundreds of thousands of students in their quest to become doctors.

A look at how we’ve grown through the years:

  • July 1983 – Coastal Research Group, a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit educational organization was founded by a group of family medicine educators, physicians, residency program directors, and public policy leaders. The mission of the organization was to research and promote family medicine and primary health care access.
  • April 1990 – First Primary Health Care Access (PHCA) Conference was held in the American Club, Wisconsin.
  • December 1999 – The Student Doctor Network was founded in Seal Beach, California, with a goal of providing resources for the medical school application process via the internet.
  • April 2002 – The Student Doctor Network merges with Coastal Research Group.
  • April 2019 – Coastal Research Group held the 30th and final PHCA Conference in Kauai, Hawaii.
  • May 2020 – Coastal Research Group changed its name to “Health Professional Student Association” to better reflect its focus on increasing access to health care by helping students from underserved areas become health professionals.