A&M International Part of "Partnership for Primary Care"

Texas A&M International University students will be able to participate in a first-of-its-kind program in Texas that will boost the number of minority students entering medical school, guarantee admission to those who meet criteria and eliminate the traditional medical school entrance exam.

Dubbed the "Partnership for Primary Care," the initiative is an early acceptance and admission program developed by The Texas A&M University System's Health Science Center at four select System campuses, including A&M International. The program, set to begin this Fall at A&M International, aims to increase the enrollment of minorities in the medical school and help reach the state's underserved areas.

The Program will be launched in ceremonies at A&M International's Great Room on Monday, February 16 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Charles Jennett, A&M International president, said the partnership is a welcome opportunity for the many local students interested in the medical field.

"Our campus is honored to be part of this innovative Partnership. It translates to real opportunities for local and area students who are interested in attending medical school. They will be able to complete their undergraduate education right here at home and, based on their completion and performance, be admitted to the Texas A&M University College of Medicine," he explained.

Open to students of all ethnic backgrounds, the program requires that participants live in a rural or medically underserved area of the State. Upon acceptance to the program, they will complete their undergraduate work at participating TAMUS universities in programs geared specifically to the medical field, including skill development workshops, medical seminars, clinical experiences and summer programs.

Participating students who maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average upon completion of their undergraduate program are automatically admitted to the Texas A&M University College of Medicine upon graduation. They will not be required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), nor will they have to wait for their senior year of college to know if they have been accepted to medical school.

During their four years at A&M's College of Medicine, participants can study either primary care or rural medicine. The third year of study will allow participants to complete selected clinical experiences in their home communities, depending on available facilities.

Dr. Michael L. Friedland, vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine at Texas A&M University and initiative developer, said the potential impact of the program is considerable.

"We are excited about this program and about its potential impact on health care in Texas. We have found that many of our patients feel more comfortable around doctors of the same background. Through the new program we not only can reach underserved patients, but can increase the likelihood that young physicians will return to their communities, " Friedland explained.

Concurring with Friedland, president Jennett noted that Laredo has great need for a ready source of qualified and culturally-sensitive doctors.

"Given this city's phenomenal growth and shortage of doctors, this program offers great hope for local students who can return home to their community as doctors. I know our local medical community will welcome these A&M College of Medicine graduates with open arms," he said.

Other partner universities in the historic effort include Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Prairie View A&M University.

For additional information, contact Dr. Stephen Brown, Dean of Student Affairs, at A&M International, at 326. 2275.

A&M International office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu