The University of Massachusetts plans to launch a joint program with the UMass medical school to increase the number of minority doctors practicing in the state of Massachusetts. The program would allow students from underprivileged backgrounds to gain admission to both the University of Massachusetts and the UMass medical school.
Under the new program, the UMass medical school would reserve 12 of 125 first-year spots for minority students in the program, four from each of the different UMass campuses. There would be no quota placed on the number of students accepted from certain ethnic groups.
“This helps other UMass campuses to attract more highly qualified students and helps us to entice those very talented individuals to stay in the state and practice medicine here,” Dean of UMass Medical School Terence Flotte said to The Boston Globe.
The program targets high school seniors who are of African-American, Hispanic, Brazilian and southeast Asian descent. Administrators hope the program will help address the shortage of minority physicians in the Massachusetts Bay area. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges and recent census data, only 5 percent of doctors in the bay area are of black or Hispanic decent.
“For a kid from a small town whose parents did not go to college, becoming a physician is just seen as such a long haul,” UMass President Jack Wilson said to The Boston Globe. “The beauty of this program is that we can start talking to them in high school, and they have a certain assurance that if they do what is expected of them, they will have a chance to make it through medical school.”
The program will also provide opportunities to low-income and first-generation college students. They would join Boston University, Tufts University and Brown University, among others, to offer a joint baccalaureate-M.D.
“I would automatically want to join something like that,” Jessica Zina, a first year student at the UMass medical school, said to The Boston Globe. “To be that much closer to medical school would really be an advantage. That would be golden.”
The program would also help increase awareness of cultures with approaches to dealing with illness and disease.
“Students learn by learning from each other,” Anthony Garro, provost and vice-chancellor for academic affairs at UMass- Dartmouth, said to The Boston Globe. “This will make for a broader education.”