UTPA Report: Becoming a doctor in as little as six years

UTPA Report: Becoming a doctor in as little as six years
Friday, September 6, 2013 - 9:24am

Imagine becoming a doctor in as little as six years! It’s a possibility now at The University of Texas-Pan American, thanks to an innovative new program.
And as Roxanne Lerma tells us in this Newscenter 23 report, the Valley will also benefit greatly from the new program.

Sabrina Chavez got her first toy medical kit when she was 6-years-old and the Port Isabel native was hooked, “I’ve always wanted to care for other people. I’ve always wanted to be a physician so this is a great program and a great opportunity for me.”

The college freshman is going to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor a little sooner than expected thanks to a revolutionary new medical education program at UT Pan American.

Dr. John Trant, “A PRIME TIME is an innovative mechanism by which we can matriculate students from freshman year to an MD degree a BS and an MD degree in six years.”

Chavez is among 22 select students from the Valley, Laredo and Houston who were accepted into the APT program. The first cohort of students is already in the lab working with human patient simulation manikins that provide life like practice to treat patients.

Sabrina, “It’s amazing I’m so excited. Everyone is so involved and hands-on definitely. It’s better than just being behind a book or taking notes in a lecture we’re actually here in the SIMS lab.”

And that’s the goal of the ground-breaking new program. From day one the approach is much more hands-on.

Abigail Chavez, UTPA Medical Student, "We’ve all come together and the teachers are so involved with us. I feel like I found a family within the students."

Frank Ambriz a key instructor for A PRIME TIME says the program is completely different from a conventional medical degree and will produce more compassionate physicians,  “The curriculum the way it is set up is more for active learning more so than the old traditional passive learning where the kids are not just given lectures. They’re actually doing a lot of hands on, a lot of teamwork and that’s the future of medicine. You work in a team.”

College of Science and Mathematics Dean Dr. John Trant said the APT program is a valuable asset to the entire Valley because it’ll churn out doctors to meet the critical shortage of local physicians. Currently the doctor-to-patient ratio in South Texas is 124 doctors for every 100-thousand residents—almost half the national average.

Dr. John Trant, UTPA College of Science & Math Dean, “I truly think, truly think the sky’s the limit. I think we can generate some of the best physicians.”

The young doctors in training vow to stay in South Texas, Abigail, “With the teaching and with all the practice we’re going to get I feel that I’m going to be more than ready and more than just being ready I’m going to have the want and the desire to do this for others and to come back and help the Valley and practice in the Valley.”

Reporting for UTPA and Newscenter 23, I’m Roxanne Lerma.

A-P-T is a partnership between three undergraduate institutions - UTPA, U-T Brownsville, and the University of Texas at El Paso - as well as two medical schools, University of Texas Medical School in Houston and University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.


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