Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, signed an agreement Friday with Texas A&M International University(TAMIU) in Laredo to facilitate the admission of outstanding TAMIU students into the Health Science Center’s School of Medicine.
Dr. Cigarroa joined Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU president, at the signing ceremony at 4:30 p.m. in TAMIU’s Student Center Rotunda. The Facilitated Admissions for South Texas Scholars (FASTS) program offers early admission to the School of Medicine for students selected to enter the program. The Health Science Center already has similar agreements with St. Mary’s University and The University of Texas Pan American.
“We will reach outstanding students in Laredo and the Mid-Rio Grande Border Region with the goal of increasing the number of homegrown physicians who practice in the region,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “At the same time, we are strengthening our important partnership with Texas A&M International University.”
Dr. Keck said the agreement targets underserved students. “It will provide academic support and enrichment opportunities to help ensure these students will be successful. We are delighted to establish undergraduate programs that are pathways to admission into a prestigious medical school such as the Health Science Center’s.”
Under the agreement, up to five high school seniors a year could be selected, based on their academic achievement and an interview with School of Medicine admissions committee members. Students who complete the first two years of course work at TAMIU with a specified science GPA are conditionally accepted by the School of Medicine. Juniors participating in the program will take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) in April and if their science GPA to MCAT scores ratio meets the requirements, they will be unconditionally accepted by the School of Medicine. FASTS could cut off a year of undergraduate study for some participants.
“This program is a pipeline for students,” said David J. Jones, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions in the School of Medicine. “It specifically addresses the need to increase the number of medical students who might, in the future, return to Webb and surrounding counties to reduce the shortage of physicians.”
The Health Science Center already has a Dental School early admission program with TAMIU, and the Health Science Center’s School of Allied Health Sciences is developing a similar program for TAMIU students interested in becoming physician assistants.