Addressing physician shortages in New Mexico through a combined BA/MD program.Acad Med. 2007 Dec; 82(12):1152-7.AM
The University of New Mexico School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences developed its combined BA/MD degree program, which will increase the medical school class from 75 students to 100 in the fall of 2010, to address the critical issue of physician shortages in underserved New Mexico. The program, which began operation at the undergraduate (i.e., college) level in 2006, expands opportunities in medical education for New Mexico students, especially those from rural and underserved minority communities, and prepares them to practice in underserved areas of New Mexico. In the BA/MD program, students will earn a bachelor of arts, a medical degree, and a proposed certificate in public health. A challenging liberal arts curriculum introduces the principles of public health. Students have unique rural medicine and public health preceptorship opportunities that begin in the undergraduate years and continue throughout medical school. Students work with a community physician mentor in summer service-learning projects during the undergraduate years, then they return for required rural medicine rotations in the first, third, and fourth years of medical school. Simultaneously, the classroom curriculum for these rural medicine experiences emphasizes the public health perspective. High priority has been placed on supporting students with academic advising and counseling, tutoring, supplemental instruction, on-campus housing, and scholarships. The program has received strong support from communities, the New Mexico state legislature, the New Mexico Medical Society, and the faculties of arts and sciences and the school of medicine. Early results on the undergraduate level demonstrate strong interest from applicants, retention of participants, and enthusiasm of students and faculty alike.