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health professionals

Health Professions Office offers career advising

By Cindy Brockwell
Special Projects Writer

(Feb. 19, 2009)--If you're thinking about a health professions career, the UTSA Health Professions Office is the place to start. And, the sooner the better.

Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, the office is in Multidisciplinary Studies Building Room 3.02.10 on the 1604 Campus. General advising for all health professions is available by appointment or on a walk-in basis. Students should call (210) 458-5185 or visit the office.

The Health Professions Office (HPO) was established three years ago under the direction of Alan Vince. Since that time, more than 3,500 UTSA students have registered with the office.

Through its advising staff of three, the office is dedicated to providing students thorough and careful advising on the academic preparation necessary to become competitive candidates in applying to various health professions programs.

"Our advising philosophy emphasizes the competitive nature of admission to health professions programs and the absolute necessity of careful and methodical academic preparation," Vince said.

The office provides special support services during the application process. This includes the writing of a health professions committee letter of evaluation for medical and dental school applicants, assistance with letters of recommendation, and review of personal statements.

The office sponsors an annual Health Professions Day; the 19th annual Health Profession Day information fair is 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19 in the University Center on the 1604 Campus. (Read a UTSA Today story about the event.) The information fair brings to campus more than 60 health professions programs from within Texas and across the nation. Information is available on health careers, application processes and more. The event is free and open to the public.

A special program for UTSA's pre-nursing students was created two years ago. Avanzar (Spanish for "advance") is a collaborative program between UTSA and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) School of Nursing. Avanzar helps pre-nursing students with course preparation and advises them on what to expect when applying to nursing programs.

Advisers from the UT Health Science Center School of Nursing provide advising at UTSA on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in the HPO. For more information on Avanzar, visit the office or e-mail Adelita Cantu.

"We stress the importance of a strong foundation in the sciences," Vince said. "We also highlight the importance to students of understanding what it means to be a health care provider... what it means to care for people who are ill. We tell students that courses in the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities can serve to ground them in the practice of medicine," he explained.

The HPO encourages students to volunteer in a clinical setting and to perform community service as a means of better understanding whether a career in health care is right for them.

Vince earned his doctorate in medical anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He spent 13 years at the UNM School of Medicine in program evaluation and as associate director of the Health Sciences Ethics Program.

He also is a faculty associate at the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the UT School of Medicine at San Antonio and teaches medical students in the course On Becoming a Doctor: Caring for the Patient, Ethics and Professionalism. In 1986, he began working as a premedical adviser at Columbia University.

At UTSA, he also directs and advises students in the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), a program created by the Texas Legislature to provide opportunities and support for economically disadvantaged students pursuing medical education. Summer internships at Texas medical schools and financial support during the undergraduate years and in medical school are highlights of JAMP.

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