UT Tyler School of Medicine launches ‘Pathways to Medicine’ program to help aspiring doctors

UT Tyler School of Medicine offering 'Pathways to Medicine' as solution to physician shortage
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 11:37 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Physician shortages in East Texas have taken a toll on people’s access to health care, especially in rural communities. This week, the UT Tyler School of Medicine took a step to combat this problem by supporting aspiring doctors in our area.

It launched its new “Pathways to Medicine” program, which is an early assurance program that would select 40 pre-med students from local colleges and universities yearly to participate in hands-on work that mirrors the kind of clinical exposures students usually see in medical school.

Founding Dean of the UT Tyler School of Medicine, Dr. Brigham C. Willis, explained what those resources would look like within this program.

“They go through a whole series of developmental activities, clinical shadowing, professionalism, development, MCAT prep, socialization with other students who are in the program to become to start the process of becoming a medical professional”

There are several partnering institutions excited about bringing this opportunity to their students. We spoke to Dr. Erin Childress, Pre-health Professions Director for Stephen F. Austin University, at the Pathways to Medicine signing ceremony, who expressed just how much this means for students.

“Once I got to tell my students about this opportunity and see just how appreciative they were to be able to have that extra support in getting to where they wanted to go, that was what was most meaningful to me,” Childress said.

According to data by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States faces a projected physician shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by the year 2034. And with the demand for physicians outpacing supply, initiatives like these are important to ensure the current generation of aspiring doctors help the communities that need them the most.

Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, President of the UT Tyler School of Medicine, explains the school’s desired impact through this initiative.

“We wanted to make sure that we could provide those students in East Texas an opportunity close to home to become educated and learn to be a physician and hopefully, in exchange, extract a commitment from them to stay in our community and serve our community,” he said.

Solving this problem won’t be a quick fix, but laying the foundation now can build for a better and healthier future.

The program is expected to take effect this year, the full list of partnering universities and colleges includes:

  • East Texas Baptist University
  • Jarvis Christian University
  • LeTourneau University
  • Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Texas College
  • Texas A&M University – Texarkana
  • The University of Texas at Tyler
  • Wiley College