The University of Texas at Arlington and one of the largest non-profit heath systems — Texas Health Resources — are partnering to offer to undergraduates who are pursuing medical careers the unique chance to experience a physician’s work firsthand.
The Pre-Medical Student Preceptorship Program will formally be launched this fall, enrolling selected students in a very competitive process that will involve a 6-week course at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital in its operating rooms and patient settings.
Participants will assess medical literature, present case studies to their mentors and meet with faculty members to discuss their clinical experience, molecular research, clinical trials, ethical issues and patient experiences.
“The University of Texas at Arlington is thrilled to continue to build a powerful partnership with Texas Health Resources, one of the drivers of the North Texas economy and a leading national provider of patient care,” said President Vistasp M. Karbhari. “We are looking forward to expanding our relationship to further biomedical and health science education and research to not only provide the very best academic experiences for our students but to also engage proactively in partnerships that enable the well-being of our community and to ensure better health care for the future.”
The Texas Health Resources Southwest Zone executive vice president and operations leader Kirk King added: “By collaborating with outstanding individuals at UT Arlington, our dedicated clinicians and physicians on the medical staff are helping advance science and medicine in North Texas. We are privileged to work with UT Arlington and to use our wealth of clinical and academic knowledge to enhance health care and improve the health and well-being of the people in the communities we serve.”
Dr. Ashley Purgason, an administrator for the program, is a UT Arlington alumnus who earned her doctorate in environmental toxicology from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “Many preceptorship programs are reserved for medical students or offer undergraduate students limited engagement,” Purgason explained. “Our students will have access to a truly rich medical experience that ultimately will benefit both institutions and produce more physicians to serve our region.”
Dr. Joseph Borrelli Jr., an Orthopedic Specialist at UT Arlington, added: “It’s critical for them to know early on how important it is that they learn the sacrifices, the commitment that we make. They also see what a positive interaction health care is. We spend a great deal of time helping our patients, treating our patients and bonding with our patients.”
Joseph Balaban, a biochemistry student from Cleburne who enrolled the pilot version of the program, expressed his surprise in seeing how patients were willing to help him as a student. “Not many pre-med students get this kind of exposure before medical school. Every day was a new day. One day we’d be working in the office, another day we’d go to the OR… That excitement of being able to do something new every day definitely had me hooked and strengthened my resolve to go to medical school.”
According to Blake Kretz, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital president, the program will build a pipeline of future physicians: “With the aging of America, we’ll need more and more physicians to care for people, and this is a great opportunity to give people experience from the very beginning in the hospital here.”
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