Saturday, February 13, 2016


UTSA, UT Health Science Center partner to address regional physician shortage


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(May 23, 2013) -- To alleviate the shortage of physicians in South Texas, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio this spring accepted the first students into a seven-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology degree and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree program. It traditionally takes eight years to earn both degrees.

The first 20 students in the FAME (Facilitated Acceptance to Medical Education) Program will start at UTSA this fall and are expected to graduate from the UT Health Science Center in 2020 with their medical degrees. FAME will increase the effectiveness and relevance of pre-doctoral physician education, while shortening its duration and decreasing its cost.

Voelcker Scholar in first class

FAME inductee Brianna Bal, 18, will graduate this month from St. Anthony Catholic High School in San Antonio. Three summers of scientific preparation as a Voelcker Scholar at the UT Health Science Center helped prepare her for this new chapter. The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund's Biomedical Research Academy provides an immersive biomedical research education and college preparatory program at the Health Science Center for high school students. As a Voelcker Scholar, Bal studied a compound called rapamycin and its effects on aging.

She exhibits a determination that is characteristic of FAME students. "The program will focus a lot of our classes on medical education, so instead of taking classes that won't really matter for becoming a doctor, we will go to classes that are specifically designed for students coming into medical school," Bal said. "There will even be classes that other students have not had before -- blended courses with professors from UTSA and UT Health Science Center teaching together."

She aspires to become an endocrinologist -- a physician who specializes in the body's glandular system, which controls functions such as blood sugar stabilization, bone growth and reproduction. "My goal is to practice endocrinology in the San Antonio area," Bal said.

One of Valley's own joins program

Nearly 300 miles to the south, Bobby Palmos of Harlingen also looks forward to getting started in FAME. "Being a part of the seven-year B.S. to M.D. program is extremely exciting to me," Palmos said. "I first became interested in medicine when I was about 11 or 12. People would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would say, 'I want to be a doctor.'"

Palmos, soon to graduate from Early College High School, attended summer medical institutes in Harlingen starting as a ninth-grader and worked with medical students and physicians to help set up free clinics in poor border neighborhoods called colonias. He began shadowing physicians at Valley Baptist Health System in 2011. In the summer of 2012, he traveled to Guatemala with a medical mission team. "In four days our team completed 72 surgeries, and during that time all doubts of becoming a physician were erased," he said.

Palmos plans to return to the Rio Grande Valley after medical school to practice as a family physician, he said.

Statistics reflect state's need

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) State Physician Data Book, Texas in 2010:

  • ranked 42nd among the states with 205 active physicians per 100,000 population. The state median, the value directly in the middle of the 50 states, was 244 per 100,000.
  • Active physicians providing direct patient care (rather than serving in administration or other roles) totaled 176 per 100,000 in Texas -- 46th in the country. (Median was 215.)
  • Primary care physicians actively seeing patients in Texas totaled 62 per 100,000 -- 48th in the country. (Median was 80.)

The FAME program is designed to remove hurdles faced by South Texas students who, by the time of their high school graduation, have the interest and focus to enter such a program.

'We expect these students to become trailblazers'

"We are excited to welcome the outstanding group of students in our joint program with the Health Science Center," said George Perry, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences. "We expect these students to become the trailblazers of this new UT System initiative, which will reduce the time and expense needed to earn a medical degree, increase the effectiveness of professional training, assist in the transformation of medical education and increase the number of practicing physicians serving the South Texas region. The lessons and new curriculum we develop will be transformative for other programs at UTSA."

"Addressing the physician shortage in Texas will take many forms and this program is an important one," said Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the Health Science Center. "This type of program has been proven at other schools to be an excellent career path. It will be a valuable option for those students who are focused on medical school as they leave high school. Furthermore, if this program is eventually expanded, shortening the time required in order to become a physician will have an important effect on the physician shortage in Texas."

Three years at UTSA, four at the Health Science Center

Students will hit the books at UTSA for three years to earn the B.S. degree in biology. Courses in biology, chemistry, genetics, physiology and other subjects will include medical school preparation specifically designed for FAME students. The College of Sciences and other UTSA colleges will offer this instruction.

FAME participants will begin studies at the Health Science Center in their fourth year. Upon matriculation, pilot program participants will be integrated with the Health Science Center's incoming medical school class. UTSA will award the students their B.S. degrees in biology after they complete their fourth year in the program.

It is estimated that 75 percent of the students who enroll in the pilot B.S.-M.D. program will complete it. The program will include exit points that will allow the remaining students to pursue a variety of majors or pre-health professions with little to no loss of course credits.

Principal leaders in accomplishing the B.S.-M.D. seven-year program include David Henzi, Ed.D. in the Health Science Center School of Medicine; Hans Heidner, Ph.D., UTSA assistant chair of biology; and Alan Vince, Ph.D., director of the UTSA Health Professions Office.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country's leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit the Health Science Center website.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 31,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property -- for Texas, the nation and the world.



Feb. 13, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

29th annual Asian Festival - Year of the Monkey

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures invites Texas and Texans to the Asian Festival. What began as a traditional family reunion for the Chinese New Year has expanded to include other Asian communities and participants, showcasing their unique culture and traditions.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Feb. 13, 1 p.m.

2016 Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium

Join the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in celebrating interdisciplinary inquiry at the 2016  Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium.  The colloquium will include a panel of faculty and recent doctoral graduate and a showcase of the best IDS undergraduate inquiry projects of the year 2015. The event is free and open to the public.
Business Building (BB 2.06.04), UTSA Main Campus

Feb. 15, 6 - 8 p.m.

Veterans' Networking Mixer

The intent of this event is to connect student veterans with employers who are seeking to provide advice and potentially recruit driven, skilled and equipped candidates for their organizations. This is an exciting opportunity to network and meet with seasoned professionals who will assist and guide you in transitioning into your next career move.
Wyndam Garden Riverwalk Hotel

Feb. 16, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.

S.T.E.M. Career Fair

Are you looking for career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math? Come to the SPRING 2015 STEM Career Fair. Recruiters from across the STEM fields will be present with full-time, part-time and/or internship opportunities. Professional dress is required. Bring plenty of resumes! Download the UTSA Career Fair Plus App on iOS and Android.
Convocation Center, Main Campus

Feb. 16, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Spring 2016 All Majors Career & Internship Fair

Come to the Spring 2016 All Majors and Internship Career Fair. Recruiters from across all industries will be present with full-time or internship opportunities. Professional Dress is Required. Bring plenty of resumes! Download the UTSA Career Fair Plus App on iOS and Android.
Convocation Center, Main Campus

Feb. 17, 5:30 p.m.

CACP Speaker Series continues with Cesar Pelli

The UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning (CACP) welcomes renowned architect Cesar Pelli as part of the CACP’s 2015-16 Speaker Series. Pelli is founder and Senior Principal of the New Haven, Conn. firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. In his talk, “Becoming an Architect,” Pelli will present and discuss projects that were critical steps in his career.
Buena Vista Theater (BV 1.326), Downtown Campus

Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m.

African-American Social Welfare Pioneers Responding to Community Needs

The UTSA College of Public Policy presents the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey, Professor of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Dr. Carlton-LaNey will speak to the UTSA community about the role and impact of African-Americans in the social work profession.
Buena Vista Theater (BV 1.326), Downtown Campus

Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Presentation and Book Signing with Luis Carlos Montalvan

Please join us for a presentation and book signing by Luis Carlos Montalván (Fmr. Capt., USA), author of the New York Times Bestseller Until Tuesday and the international award-winning childrens book Tuesday Tucks Me In. His books will be available for purchase at the UTSA Bookstore. This event is free and open to the public.
Southwest Room (DB 1.124), Downtown Campus

Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

12th Annual Black Heritage Gala

The 12th Annual Black Heritage Gala is a formal event which includes a student performance, keynote remarks by Michael Brown, an award presentation, dinner and dancing. Tickets are $10 for UTSA students and $15 for all other guests. Tickets are on sale now at Roadrunner Express. Contact (210) 458-4770 for more information.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Feb. 27, 9 a.m.

Cultural Contrasts in Latin America

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures will host a free workshop focusing on teaching Latin American culture and geography for students seeking their teacher certification. The workshop includes free resources for teaching Latin American subject matter as well as presentations on language, identity, music, geography, and political and developmental history, and a special educators’ tour of the museum’s Los Tejanos exhibit. Free with registration.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC 3.01.02)

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2015 Year in Review

2015 was a significant year for UTSA. As the university moved forward on the road to Tier One research, designations and recruitment of high caliber faculty and students, it also completed its first ever capital campaign. Read about UTSA's accomplishments in the 2015 Year in Review as we look forward to what the next year will bring.

UTSA's Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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