The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine launched the Middle School to Medical School (M to M) program with a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at Harmony Science Academy.
The M to M program is targeted to those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Felix Morales, M.D., associate dean of the School of Medicine Office of Admissions, said programs like these are necessary because studies have shown, the earlier children are exposed to careers in medicine, the better chance they will have in actually pursuing a degree.
“As a child, I helped my family by working in the fields picking onions,” Dr. Morales said. “Hard work was instilled in our family. When I applied and was accepted to medical school, I was one-in-four Hispanic students. There were no African-Americans and more men than women were accepted. We want to provide opportunities for middle school children to experience the world of health care and hopefully inspire them to know they too can become a physician.”
TTUHSC is partnering with Harmony Science Academy, a public Title-I charter school, as the pilot school for the program. Medical students will host monthly outreach activities with Harmony Science Academy students exposing them to activities such as taking blood pressure, casting, using a stethoscope and answering questions about the medical field.
A report by the U.S. Census Bureau Texas Health Professions Resource Center, showed the 2018 Texas population was 39 percent Hispanic and 13 percent black, yet only 8 percent of the Texas physician population was Hispanic and 6 percent black. Dr. Morales stressed the importance of mentors for children.
“I started with the premedical society helping underrepresented students, and in this role, I continue to work with and mentor students. We want all children to know what’s possible and set a pathway for them to succeed.”