By Will Sansom and Rosanne Fohn
|Francisco Fernandez, M.D., FAPA, DFAPA, FACP, (left) is the founding dean of the new UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. He was introduced in three Valley communities Feb. 26 by UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
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Francisco Fernandez, M.D., FAPA, DFAPA, FACP, the founding dean of the new UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine, was formally introduced to constituents Feb. 26 at press conferences in Harlingen, Edinburg and Brownsville, where campuses of the new university are located.
Dr. Fernandez said the day of announcements at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, UT Pan American in Edinburg and UT Brownsville was not as much about announcing a founding dean, but about the students who will be educated at UTRGV and the health of the region. Educating doctors and improving health
He said the new university will be an incredibly strong base for medicine and health. “We have work to do, from accreditation and beyond, to make this the opportunity that we all want it to be,” Dr. Fernandez said. “I promise you, I will not let you down.” Obesity, nutrition and diabetes initiative
Not only will the new medical school educate and train more doctors to care for South Texans, he said, but there also will be an initiative that will focus on obesity, nutrition and diabetes. “There isn’t a field of medicine that isn’t touched by those three elements,” he said.
“This new School of Medicine is so important because if a student stays in the region for medical school and a residency program, the chances that they stay in the Valley to practice increase to about 80 percent,” UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., explained.
Strong interest nationwide in new medical school
|Residents of Harlingen, Edinburg and Brownsville welcomed Francisco Fernandez, M.D., FAPA, DFAPA, FACP, to their communities. The UT Rio Grande Valley will incorporate the campuses of the Regional Academic Health Center, UT Brownsville and UT Pan American. |
Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, said the dean’s search elicited many candidates and interest from across the nation. “There is a lot of excitement about this new school everywhere,” he said.
“The founding dean is a very important person,” he added. “The dean develops the dream of the new school, identifies great people for it and allocates resources to support the missions of the medical school.”
The first South Texas track developed by the School of Medicine in San Antonio as a preamble to developing the new School of Medicine is oversubscribed, so there is great interest among students, too, Dr. González said.Research center for Hispanic health
“Our new School of Medicine will train a preeminent workforce,” Dr. Fernandez added. “The Valley is one of the most important regions in the U.S. Chicago, Los Angeles and San Antonio have been the centers of research for Hispanic health issues, but the Valley has now joined them.”
He has a blueprint for what the School of Medicine will look like 50 years from now. It will be a leader in global and Hispanic health, he said. The school will emphasize compassion and family, which are values that naturally occur in the Valley. “That’s just part of doing business here,” Dr. Fernandez said.Nurturing a new medical school
Raymond S. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the UT System, thanked the many UT Health Science Center colleagues who played a leadership role and gave their time and energy to create a medical school that they are ultimately going to hand over to others. “That is rare in academic medicine,” he said.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education has seven pre-accredited schools of Medicine including the UTRGV School of Medicine. This one is distinguished by the passionate community behind it, Dr. González said. “This one has heart.”