School tackling physician shortage
Published: Thursday, May 25th, 2006
John Tranchida plans to shape a living in the community where he was raised, which makes the physician-hopeful somewhat of an anomaly. Medical school graduates scuttling out of New Mexico are part of a trend that has dampened the quality of health care in the state, according to University of New Mexico officials. Of 33 counties in New Mexico, 30 have been federally designated as medically underserved, officials said. In response, the UNM College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine have forged a joint program designed to alleviate the physician shortage. Tranchida, of Clovis, and Nicole Harris of Texico are among the 25 seniors chosen to participate in the new program, slated to begin in the fall of 2006. More than 140 high school seniors competed for a spot in the program, according to Kathy Kersting, program manager. Only New Mexico seniors interested in lending their skills to underserved communities in the state were eligible for entrance into the combined bachelor’s and master’s program, Kersting said. Tranchida said his strong ties to Clovis earned him a seat in the elite program. His military mother and father retired in Clovis, raising their son in the town of roughly 38,000. “I like the peacefulness of Clovis,” said Tranchida, who plans to open a family medical practice in the area and is spending his summer delivering pharmaceutical supplies for the Roden-Smith pharmacy. Undergraduate tuition for the ambitious 18-year-old and his fellow program mates has been paid for through scholarships offered in conjunction with the program and funded by the New Mexico Legislature. “(The program) takes a lot of strain off and it will allow me to focus on learning,” Tranchida said. Participants will complete their undergraduate studies through the College of Arts and Sciences. Studies will cover health needs specific to the state, but will also emphasize liberal arts, social sciences, humanities and the sciences, Kersting said. Upon meeting specific criteria, the students will then transfer into the UNM four-year medical school program, Kersting said. The deadline for New Mexico seniors to apply for the program is Dec. 1. More information can be found at http://hsc.unm.edu.
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