Celebration honors RAHC faculty

San Antonio (June 27, 2007) – The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), located at two campuses of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, recently held a fifth anniversary appreciation ceremony to honor its dedicated faculty.

The celebration, which included faculty, staff, medical students and medical residents, took place June 18 in the RAHC Medical Education Division auditorium in Harlingen. A community celebration to officially commemorate the RAHC’s fifth anniversary is planned for this fall.

During the ceremony, William Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the Health Science Center, and Leonel Vela, M.D., M.P.H., regional dean of the RAHC in the School of Medicine, spoke about the RAHC’s accomplishments over the past five years and future plans.

Medical students and medical residents presented awards to outstanding faculty, and those who have been with the RAHC since its beginning received special recognition.
The RAHC serves Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The RAHC has a Medical Education Division in Harlingen and a Medical Research Division in Edinburg. Both divisions are overseen by Health Science Center.

The RAHC Medical Education Division provides the opportunity for medical students and residents from the Health Science Center to receive clinical training in this medically underserved part of Texas.

The Medical Research Division provides the opportunity for faculty members interested in the diseases and conditions prevalent in the Texas-Mexico border region to conduct cutting-edge research there.

In addition, there are numerous outreach collaborations between the Health Science Center and area schools and universities that offer opportunities and encouragement for local students to pursue an education in medicine, dentistry, nursing, the allied health sciences and medical research, then return to serve their communities.

“The RAHC has had many remarkable accomplishments in these first five years and it is truly a time to celebrate,” Dr. Vela said, noting that:

• Since the RAHC’s dedication in June 2002, more than 400 Health Science Center medical students have completed at least one clinical rotation in the Valley.
• 50 percent of the graduates from the RAHC’s internal medicine residency program are practicing in the Valley or border area or plan to practice there in the future.
• Over the first five years, the RAHC faculty has grown to 300 volunteer and part-time faculty members.

“Serving as regional academic dean for the RAHC and seeing it develop from the very beginning has been very rewarding,” Dr. Vela said. “It is truly gratifying to see our many efforts bearing fruit. One of the best payoffs is that our graduates are seeing the need and value of practicing medicine here in the Valley, where medical professionals are so desperately needed.”

“Our school, our Health Science Center and our students are all committed to building our educational and service programs in the Valley,” Dr. Henrich said. “We pledge to do all we can to ensure that these multiple programs continue to strengthen. They are a great source of pride to everyone at our institution.”

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $536 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $14.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, click on www.uthscsa.edu.

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