June 1, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 22



New agreement gives St. Mary's students a chance for early acceptance to medical school

Photo of Cotrell and Cigarroa shaking hands Dr. Charles L. Cotrell (left), St. Mary's University president, and Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president, congratulate each other immediately after signing off on the joint Early Admissions Program between the two universities.

Teenage scholars in South Texas can begin their dream of a medical career under a joint early acceptance program between the Health Science Center and St. Mary's University, officials announced May 16.

High school seniors who plan to study medicine and attend St. Mary's can enter the Early Admissions Program (EAP) for the UTHSC Medical School through the federally funded Health Careers Opportunity Program. HCOP is a four-year summer enrichment program for academically, economically or geographically disadvantaged students. Both institutions supervise the program of six-week sessions each summer. This year, the HCOP for incoming freshmen at St. Mary's runs June 18 through July 27.

"We are proud to partner with a distinguished institution such as St. Mary's University in this program to help South Texas young people pursue the dream of becoming physicians," said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president. "The EAP will provide a new way for outstanding students to focus on entering Medical School at the Health Science Center and realizing that dream."

St. Mary's is noted for its strong pre-medical program in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology.

"It is gratifying that St. Mary's can collaborate with the Health Science Center to prepare the community-based doctors of tomorrow today, especially for the medically underserved in the Lower Rio Grande Valley," said Dr. Charles L. Cotrell, St. Mary's president.

"We are charged with educating and training physicians for our region, from north of San Antonio to the Rio Grande," said Dr. Steven A. Wartman, executive vice president for academic and health affairs at the UTHSC and dean of the Medical School. "We therefore seek the best students from South Texas — those who not only are scholars but those who would make compassionate physicians."

A major goal of the EAP is to encourage medical students who grew up in the Valley to return as practicing physicians. Through the new Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) — an outreach of the UTHSC Medical School — medical students may opt to complete their third and fourth years of clinical training in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The program will be offered at the RAHC Medical Education Division facility under construction in Harlingen and at its affiliated teaching facilities in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties, all of which bear the medically underserved designation. The first group of 24 third-year RAHC medical students, who will focus on clinical rotations in primary care, will begin studying in Harlingen in July 2002.

Five students will be selected next spring for the EAP. A joint Medical School-St. Mary's faculty selection committee will make the selections based on applicants' academic potential and proven interest in studying medicine.