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Is there a future doctor in the house?

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From left, Cristina Arnold, local coordinator in Roswell; Remy Link from Albuquerque; Devin Maez from Albuquerque and Hoang Nguyen from Farmington. The three BA/MD students are in their last week of four-week internships in Roswell shadowing local doctors and doing volunteer work. For the past three Saturday mornings, the students took part in the Walk with a Doc program at Cielo Grande Recreation Area, where Nguyen has been the presenter three Saturdays in a row. (Submitted Photo)

Students from UNM’s combined bachelor of arts, med school program completing internships in Roswell

Actually, there are three “future doctors” in the same house. Three University of New Mexico students are living in a house in Roswell until this weekend as they complete a four-week internship program that will ultimately lead to a career in medicine.

They have been shadowing local doctors and all of them are required to do 20 hours a week of volunteer work for local agencies and nonprofits.

Devin Maez and Remy Link, both of Albuquerque, and Hoang Nguyen of Farmington are between their sophomore and junior years in a combined BA/MD Degree Program that is designed to help address the state’s physician shortage by assembling a class of diverse students who are committed to serving New Mexico communities.

Though not required, they are encouraged to work in rural areas upon graduation from medical school.

The partnership program is between the UNM College of Arts & Sciences and the UNM School of Medicine and is open to New Mexico high school seniors planning to begin college in the fall semester after their high school graduation.

This program is open to high school students graduating from a New Mexico high school, as well as members of a Native-American nation, tribe or pueblo located wholly or partially in New Mexico and graduating from a local school. 

Twenty-eight students are offered acceptance each year — two-thirds from rural and one-third from urban areas of New Mexico.

Why they want to become doctors

Maez told the Roswell Daily Record he has wanted to become a doctor since he was a child.

“My mother was a huge influence,” he said. “She had five or six knee surgeries, and I like the way she was treated (by the doctors). I wanted to be that way someday.”

Link said, “I shadowed a geriatrician and liked her interactions with patients and how she had been a positive influence in their lives.”

Nguyen said, “I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field. I got injured playing football in high school and the orthopedic surgeon took good care of me. He inspired me.”

Both Maez and Nguyen said they like orthopedics and Link said she would like to work with children.

Which doctors are they shadowing in Roswell?

Link is assigned to Dr. Donald Wenner, a general surgeon, and his son, Dr. Donald Wenner III, whose specialties are urology and vascular surgery.

Nguyen is with Dr. Akbar Ali, a general surgeon at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, and Maez is with Dr. Thomas Wulf, who practices emergency medicine at ENMMC.

Volunteerism

So far, the UNM students have volunteered at the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, the New Mexico Department of Health in Chaves County and the Roswell Boys & Girls Club.

This coming week, they get to work with critters instead of humans, volunteering with the local animal rescue group From Forgotten to Forever Rescue and Transport.

So what’s Roswell like?

All three agreed the UNM program has exceeded their expectations.

Maez said Roswell is “hot,” an assessment most of us would agree with, and Link said, “The people are friendly and the area is quite beautiful.”

Nguyen said there are more things to do in Roswell than what he at first thought.

This weekend, the students said they will visit the UFO Museum and Research Center and Bottomless Lakes State Park.

All three are proponents of physical fitness and have been attending the Walk with the Doc program on Saturday mornings at Cielo Grande Recreation Area, where Nguyen has been the presenter for three Saturdays in a row.

Walk with a Doc is a free program that encourages physical activity and the reversal of a sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Reynaldo Martinez, an accomplished distance runner, is the local coordinator.

Advice to high schoolers interested in medicine

All three said high school students interested in becoming doctors should seek opportunities to shadow doctors before graduation.

They also encouraged volunteerism and and participating in extracurricular activities, as many medical schools seek applicants with a well-rounded background that goes with their academics.

More about the BA/MD
Program

The BA/MD Program is funded by the New Mexico State Legislature and provides financial support for students who are committed to practicing medicine in New Mexico’s medically under-served communities in the undergraduate portion of the program.

Students will first earn a baccalaureate degree through the College of Arts & Sciences in a challenging four-year curriculum specifically designed to prepare them for medical school and, ultimately, to practice medicine in New Mexico.

The program considers all aspects of an applicant’s background, experience and academic progress, including: Academics (e.g., GPA, ACT/SAT scores, honors, advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses), community involvement, volunteer experience, commitment to practice medicine in New Mexico, honors and awards, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and an interview.

For more information, call 505-925-4500, fax 505-925-4004
or email HSCCombinedbamd@salud.unm.edu.

Vistas editor Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.