The University of Texas- Pan American has hired its first full time physician to serve the college community and she's no stranger to the campus. In fact, the medical doctor attended UTPA as an undergraduate student and says she wouldn't be where she is today and doing what she loves best if it weren't for UTPA. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
Dr. Cristel Escalona is excited to be back home where she says she belongs. The Mission native is referring to UTPA where she attended school as an undergraduate student and now works as a medical doctor. In fact, she is the University's first full time physician, an honor she is extremely proud of and taking very seriously when it comes to serving the health care needs of her alma mater and its current students.
Dr. Cristel Escalona/UTPA Physician, "I'm excited to be the first physician that comes here on campus and is able to take care of the student population here so I'm happy and excited. I love to teach if anybody wants to come in and ask me just questions about the career of medicine or anything having to do with it, I'm more than happy to and just happy and excited."
Escalona enjoyed her academic career at UTPA which spanned the late 1990's and early 2000's. She recalls the benefits of being a female chemistry major.
Dr. Cristel Escalona/UTPA Physician, "There really weren't that many chemistry majors that were women so I got to do a lot of things that at other universities you do not have the possibility of doing. I had to do a lot of research. I did organic chemistry research. I also did palmer research while I was here and at other universities because of the overwhelming amount of students usually under grads don't get to do the amount of research. I think that was vital in me getting into medical school."
After graduating from UTPA, Escalona went on to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston where she received her medical degree and completed her residency. She then returned to the Valley where she worked as a hospitalist taking care of patients in hospitals in Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco, and McAllen. In January, she accepted the full time position and will be provided with the medical staff needed to run a full fledge clinic including a physician assistant and nurse.
Dr. Cristel Escalona/UTPA Physician, "I'll be overseeing and also examining students while I'm here, but it's basically the services that we already do provide, which is vaccinations which are very, very important, physical exams, sports physicals, well women exams and also if students become ill, you know we want them to come in so we can check them out and see what we can do for them."
Escalona is enthusiastically looking forward to serving the college community.
Dr. Cristel Escalona/UTPA Physician, "It feels good. It's the entire reason why anyone becomes a doctor is to be able to help people and watch them get better so it feels really good."
I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.