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Students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Physician Assistant Studies Program in the College of Health Professions, recently worked on a case study as part of the first Team-Centric Friday event. More than 160 students – nurse practitioner, physician assistant and first-year medical students – collaborated on how to treat a patient with vision problems. The interprofessional education training exercise addressed one of the goals of the medical school and the allied health professions programs at UTRGV: to prepare future healthcare providers to work in an interprofessional team-based setting.  Graphic Courtesy UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY

Featured: Students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Physician Assistant Studies Program in the College of Health Professions, recently worked on a case study as part of the first Team-Centric Friday event. More than 160 students – nurse practitioner, physician assistant and first-year medical students – collaborated on how to treat a patient with vision problems. The interprofessional education training exercise addressed one of the goals of the medical school and the allied health professions programs at UTRGV: to prepare future healthcare providers to work in an interprofessional team-based setting.

Graphic Courtesy UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY

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Sen. Hinojosa, Sen. Watson, Rep. Longoria pass legislation to help qualified, financially-needy students succeed at UTRGV School of Medicine

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

State legislation that would allow The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine to participate in a statewide program that helps qualified, financially-needy students succeed has been approved by the Texas Legislature and is on the way to the governor for his action.

Senate Bill 479, authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and coauthored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, would add the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine to the list of medical schools participating in the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP).

State Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya, sponsored SB 479 in the Texas House of Representatives.

The author is the legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the primary author).

A coauthor is a legislator authorized by the primary author of a bill or resolution to join in the authorship of the measure. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives allow an unlimited number of coauthors on a bill or resolution. A coauthor must be a member of the chamber in which the bill was filed.

The sponsor is a member of the opposite chamber of the one in which the bill was filed.

The Joint Admission Medical Program is a special program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged Texas resident students pursuing a medical education, according to its website, https://www.texasjamp.org. Funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, JAMP is a unique partnership between nine Texas medical schools and 68 public and private four-year undergraduate institutions.

“The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, were established as of 2015 as our state’s newest public medical schools,” Watson explained. “However, there are several sections of the education code that haven’t been updated to include these schools, and that’s what this bill does.”

SB 479 would “help with recruiting and retaining highly qualified, economically-disadvantaged Texas resident students pursuing a medical education,” Hinojosa said. “Texas students admitted to this program are guaranteed admission to one of the state’s medical schools, financial and academic support to help them get there, and access to resources that allow them to excel.”

Final passage of SB 479 took place on Saturday, May 25, 2019, and sent to Gov. Gregg Abbott on that day.

“As filed, Senate Bill 479 makes this update by adding both schools to, first, the definition of medical and dental units, and two, the Joint Admission Medical Program, or JAMP,” Watson said. “JAMP is a
partnership between Texas’ medical schools and 68 undergraduate institutions that qualified, economically-disadvantaged students to prepare for and succeed in medical school.”

Longoria said he “will always be an advocate in bringing forward these types of opportunities for students attending the UTRGV School of Medicine. JAMP is a huge step in allowing these students to prosper in furthering their education.”

Dr. Guy Bailey, President, UTRGV, praised the Legislature for their support of the measure.

“JAMP has an excellent reputation for helping hundreds of talented, highly motivated and economically disadvantaged students achieve their dreams of becoming physicians,” said Bailey. “We are extremely grateful to Sen. Hinojosa, Rep. Longoria and Sen. Watson for passing legislation to allow UTRGV’s School of Medicine to participate in the JAMP program so that we can continue to grow our own medical doctors in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Supporters of the legislation note that every other public medical school in Texas participates in the program, which has proven to be successful in helping Texans from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds become doctors, and so it is only appropriate that these two schools be added to the list of participants, according to Verónica Gonzáles, Vice President for Government and Community Relations, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Gonzáles, a former successful state representative from Hidalgo County (House District 41) from 2005 to June 2012, played key roles in providing information requested from state legislators for SB 479.

Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health, Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health, and Miriam Cepeda, Governmental Relations Liaison, City of Edinburg, were among the individuals who supported the effort on behalf of SB 479.

According to the bill analysis by the House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research arm of the Texas House of Representatives, Education Code sec. 51.822 governs the Joint Admission Medical Program, which is administered by the Joint Admission Medical Program Council to:

• Provide services to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged students pursuing a medical education;
• Award undergraduate and graduate scholarships and summer stipends to such students; and
• Guarantee the admission of these students to at least one participating medical school.

SB 479, as approved by the Senate on Thursday, April 11, 2019, included the following provisions, according to the House Research Organization:

• Requires the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley each to enter into the requisite agreement with the Joint Admission Medical Program Council and to select an appropriate faculty member to represent the respective medical school on the council;

• Amends the Education Code to classify the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as medical and dental units for purposes of the Higher Education Coordinating Act of 1965. The bill includes both medical schools among the participating medical schools in the joint admission medical program; and

• Requires each of the medical schools to provide internships and mentoring under the program as appropriate beginning not later than the 2020-2021 academic year, but expressly does not require the medical schools to admit participating students under the program before the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) provides:

• Support through undergraduate scholarships and summer stipends;
• Placement into JAMP Summer Internship experiences;
• Hands-on experience through clinical enrichment opportunities;
• Comprehensive, multi-phase MCAT preparation program;
• Personal and professional development through dedicated mentoring;
• Guaranteed admission to a participating Texas medical school if all criteria are met; and
• Scholarships to attend medical school.

Key legislative history

2001 • Senate Bill 940 of the 77th Texas Legislature

Creates the JAMP program to support and encourage highly qualified economically disadvantaged students pursuing a medical education.
Establishes JAMP Council comprised of Admissions and Student Affairs Deans from all over Texas.
Requires Texas medical schools to set aside 10 percent of entering class for JAMP participants.
Funds to be appropriated by the Texas Legislature.

2003 • Senate Bill 1128 of the 78th Texas Legislature

Creates JAMP alternate pool.
Adds flexibility to program entry requirements.

2005 • Senate Bill 1247 of the 79th Texas Legislature

Changes entry year into program from freshman to sophomore year.
Gives council authority to reallocate unfilled program openings during initial selection.
Establishes a pre-admission mentoring and assistance program during freshman year for prospective students.

2007 • Senate Bill 1601 of the 80th Texas Legislature

Expands participation of private or independent institutions.
Gives community college students the opportunity to transfer to a four-year institution and be eligible to apply to the program.
Provides greater flexibility in designating JAMP Faculty Director.
Clarifies scope of JAMP Council’s ability to accept gifts and engage in fundraising.

2009 • Senate Bill 1728 of the 81st Texas Legislature

Removed section limiting term of Council members to six years.
Removed application award for students applying to the program.
Added Texas Tech Health Sciences at El Paso to participating medical school entities.
Removed necessity to enroll at an institution of higher education not later than the first fall semester following the student’s graduation from high school.

UTRGV EVENT BRINGS TOGETHER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, NURSING, PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDENTS FOR INTERPROFESSIONAL TEAM-BUILDING EVENT

Students from the UTRGV School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Physician Assistant Studies Program in the College of Health Professions recently received an early glimpse into working in a team-based environment to help a patient.

The School of Medicine on Friday, March 1, 2019 hosted the first Team-Centric event where more than 160 students – nurse practitioner students, physician assistant students and first-year medical students – collaborated on how to treat a patient with vision problems.

“It was great to be able to interact with the MD students, as well as the nurse practitioner students,” said Greg Billings, a first-year Physician Assistant studies student from Mesa, Arizona. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us to begin a relationship early with medical students and nurse practitioners, so that we’re able to work better together once we’re actually in practice.”

Billings and other students said they appreciated how they were able to complement each other’s skill sets. Where medical students excelled in pathology, the PA and nurse practitioners excelled in clinical presentation skills, they said.

“I think that it primes us for when we’re actually in the workplace, working with the rest of the healthcare team on a daily basis,” said first-year medical student Unyime-Abasi Eyobio. “I think it will be good to have that foundation before we actually get started.”

The Team-Centric Friday activity on March 1, 2019 was the realization of a shared vision that faculty members from the schools of Medicine and Nursing, and the College of Health Professions, have had in developing interprofessional education opportunities for students, said Dr. Helene Krouse, RN, Associate Dean for Interprofessional Education at the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Citing the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 patient safety report, “To Err is Human,” Krouse said a high number of medical errors were the result of a lack of communication among healthcare professionals. Having students of medicine and other health-related professions collaborate earlier in their careers can help them become more acclimated to working in a team-based environment and improve communication among healthcare providers, she said.

“The goal is to have the patient at the center of care,” Krouse said. “We’re here because of the patient.”

The activity included 16 faculty members from various programs and schools, including internal medicine residents who served as faculty facilitators. These facilitators provided guidance to small interprofessional teams of students as they reviewed the case study.

Participating faculty members said they were impressed with how well students from the different programs worked together. Several faculty members said they noticed the respect with which students treated each other and how they helped one another throughout the exercise.

“I liked how well they meshed,” said Dr. Jawairia Khan, a second-year medical resident in the UTRGV internal medicine residency program at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.

Despite being from different programs and at different stages in their respective programs, Khan said they knew when to pull back or when to offer their opinions.

“I was surprised they didn’t try to talk over each other,” she said. “They said, this is about a patient, this is the patient’s care, and you have to leave your ego and everything else aside and take care of the patient first. I thought that was very mature for students coming in right off the bat.”

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Jeniffer Berghom contributed to this article. For more information, please contact Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health, or Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health, at 956/362-7165. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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