SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 18, 2013) — The School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio made the top three best medical schools for Hispanics nationwide in a new ranking in Hispanic Business magazine.
The ranking is based on enrollment, faculty, reputation, retention rate, and the use of progressive programs to recruit, support and mentor Hispanic medical students. The School of Medicine placed sixth on the list last year and is perennially among the top 10.
The School of Medicine’s graduate enrollment of 889 students during the latest ranking period (2011-2012) included 175 Hispanics — nearly 20 percent of the total. At most U.S. medical schools, Hispanic enrollment is in the single digits.
Of 207 M.D. degrees conferred by the School of Medicine during the period, 38 went to Hispanics, among the highest totals in the country.
“Because of the high percentage of Hispanics in South Texas, our student population better mirrors the community than might be the case elsewhere,” said Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the UT Health Science Center. “The School of Medicine is continuing its commitment to attract and educate a diverse student body as part of its mission to serve our region and state.”
The School of Medicine’s concentration of Hispanic full-time faculty members is larger than in most schools nationally. Of 1,312 full-time faculty in the School of Medicine, 182 (14 percent) are of Hispanic descent.
“We have an excellent core of Hispanic faculty, many of whom serve as mentors for our Hispanic students, which is part of the value of this environment for them,” Dr. González said.
The School of Medicine puts a major focus on outreach to Hispanic students who are considering medicine as a career, said David J. Jones, Ph.D., senior associate dean of admissions and executive director for health science pipeline programs. Pipeline programs include the Med Ed Program, which exposes young people to the prospects and rewards of health science careers, including hands-on field trips to the Health Science Center in San Antonio and to the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen. The Facilitated Admissions for South Texas Scholars (FASTS) Program, which represents agreements in place between the School of Medicine and several South Texas universities, provides outstanding undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for early acceptance to the School of Medicine while taking concentrated preparatory courses.
Students are comfortable in San Antonio because of the city’s bicultural heritage.
Melecio Medina, a fourth-year medical student from McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley, said one of the major reasons he wanted to come to San Antonio is that the population of the city is very similar to that of the Valley, predominately Hispanic. “It is easy for me to relate to this population since I grew up in a similar environment,” Medina said. “I want to return to the Valley once I finish my residency and fellowship, and I believe that the training here in San Antonio will set me up well to serve the people of my home region.”
Hispanic culture is very family oriented, and the School of Medicine at San Antonio is the closest medical school to many students’ home areas, which allows them to obtain a medical education and hold on to the family support they’ve had growing up, Medina said.
“Once I started applying to medical schools, I noticed that San Antonio’s reputation is very family friendly and very supportive in general,” he said.
In terms of retaining students, the School of Medicine’s retention rate exceeds 97 percent. Only a small percentage of students fail to graduate in five years. Some students require a fifth year to accommodate independent study that they elect to pursue.
Although it wasn’t part of the ranking, Texas medical schools are much more affordable than those in other states, Dr. Jones noted. Of the top 10 in the rankings, four are Texas schools.
A final key is holistic review of applicants by the School of Medicine’s admissions committee. “One of the accomplishments of holistic admissions is it recognizes the value of the background experiences and characteristics of applicants, especially as they relate to the applicant’s unique culture,” Dr. Jones said. “It is a valuing of their background, including ethnicity and geography. For example, a rural student is valued because this student in the future might be more inclined to practice in a rural community. The holistic review of our School of Medicine places value on diverse cultures and the potential to one day serve the diverse populations of Texas.”
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 more than 29,000 graduates. The $765.2 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 www.uthscsa.edu.