TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Community College and OU Tulsa School of Community Medicine are working to bring more students to medical school.
Through the University Medical Acceleration Program, or UMAP, students gain the necessary coursework and an understanding of the process to enter medical school.
Dr. Jabraan Pasha is one of the doctors who meets the students in this program. He says UMAP is a victory, a victory for students and the medical profession.
“This is a group that traditionally is sometimes overlooked in the medical school process,” he explains. “We are here to tell them how to get into medical school and that they are needed in medical school.”
This need is more evident than ever. The Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that all 77 counties in the state are facing shortages of medical professionals. Dr. Pasha says the pandemic has definitely played its part.
“Burnout has been tough for a lot of us,” he says of the past two years. “It has left us understaffed, whether it’s shortages of nurses or doctors. It’s a challenge, we still have the same number of patients but now we have, in many situations, fewer medical providers to care for those patients.
He says the shortage has forced medical schools to reinvent their typical applicants.
Lily Robistow fits that mold. Two years ago she was a biology teacher, now thanks to UMAP she is heading to medical school next fall.
“When I got my bachelor’s degree in biology, I didn’t initially think medical school was my way,” she says.
Like many people, she says the pandemic has changed things. As a teacher for Teach for America, she said she noticed inequities in her classroom, with students’ physical and mental health becoming barriers to their education.
“I wanted to marry my two passions of helping others and biology into a career in medicine,” says Robistow. “TCC has made this dream much more achievable.”
She says UMAP helped define what her path to medical school would look like. That meant enrolling her in the classes she needed, going through the application process, and providing prep options for the MCAT, the test needed to get into medical school. She says an added benefit came with the price.
“They made sure I got the classes I missed at a fraction of the cost,” she says. “What I pay in one semester at a four-year institution is what I could pay for the full two years here.”
UMAP also hopes to help with advocacy in the medical field.
“Perhaps the people most likely to go to community college are people who are struggling financially or who are from rural or underrepresented minorities,” says Dr. Pasha.
Robistow also spoke about this diversity saying, “Expanding a doctor’s appearance and background will help close the gap between doctors or at least narrow it, but now you’ll have more diversity within doctors. .”
For more information on the UMPA, click here.
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