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Charter class to be revealed soon UTRGV School of Medicine to present inaugural students in early February


UT Rio Grande Valley’s School of Medicine has until Thursday to review and rank 250 interviewees and submit the list to the Texas Medical and Dental Student Application Service, officials say.

Applicants also rank their preferred schools and the service will then match the universities and students accordingly by late January.

“Since we did not get accredited until Oct. 17, we are interviewing through [Jan. 16],” School of Medicine Dean Francisco Fernandez said in a phone interview Jan. 11. “Then our admissions committee meets and does the ranking and we submit the ranking to the Texas Medical and Dental Student Application Service and then we hear back from them at the end of January. And we will make our announcement of who matched with us in the first week of February, when we’re allowed to announce.”

The list of the charter class will not be official until February but Fernandez has called around 30 applicants who have already been interviewed, telling them their ranking places them in consideration for acceptance into the

“We have accepted some individuals and told them we would rank them and so that process is ongoing,” Fernandez said. “It’s different every time the admissions committee meets but it’s not formalized, you know, until the Texas Medical and Dental Student Application Service matches them with us.”

The school started accepting applications in late November and received nearly 3,000 in just two and a half weeks.

As previously reported by The Rider, the school received preliminary accreditation last October from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and is pending provisional accreditation from the organization, which is expected in 2017.

The school has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. It also needs to gain accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“[SACSCOC has] to also approve the medical school,” Fernandez said. “We submitted the application last fall. … We have not been told yet when we are scheduled for a site visit. But to open a medical school, you can start with LCME [preliminary] accreditation and SACS accreditation eventually follows.”

Tuition and fees for the academic year will vary based on the student’s state residency and medical health insurance coverage options, according to the UTRGV website.

“Tuition and fees, it’s $18,298 for Texas residents and non-Texas residents, it’s $31,398,” Fernandez said. “Now,
that’s without health insurance but Texas requires the students to have health insurance or proof of insurance, one of the two.”

If a student does not have insurance, they must purchase it for $2,181 from the university, regardless of their residency classification. The total cost per year, with insurance, is $20,479 for Texas residents and $33,579 for non-Texas residents.

Students accepted into the charter class will receive scholarships equivalent to 80 percent of their tuition regardless of residency classification, according to the school’s website.

“We’ve been very blessed to have a community, the community has really provided a tremendous amount of support for the inaugural class,” Fernandez said. “The charter class scholarship is one of the things that we are able to offer for their first year.”


The charter class scholarship reduces tuition by $13,068 for Texas residents and by $23,548 for non-Texas residents.

A 15,000-square-foot Smart Hospital complex and a virtual anatomy and histology laboratory are under construction in Edinburg.

The building is scheduled to be ready by the end of spring and if it is not ready, students will start class in July at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, the dean said.

Officials say the curriculum has been completed. It will consist of integrated basic and clinical sciences modules with an interprofessional portion in which students will work with professionals in other fields to help the community.

“We’re teaching it where we are integrating the basic science with the clinical science,” said Jodi Huggenvick, assistant dean of medical education preclerkship and basic sciences associate professor. “Almost each week we open up a clinical case on the computer and this serves as the patients for the students to focus in on their clinical problems, but also on learning their basic sciences that would contribute to their understanding of that patient’s problem.”

Among those who assisted Fernandez in creating the curriculum are Dr. Eron Manusov, a professor of clinical science, and John Ronnau, senior associate dean for Interprofessional Education.

Huggenvick assisted in planning how the first two years, pre-clerkship, of the medical school will run. Manusov
assisted in the last two years, which will be of clerkship.

“We decided to teach it in modules,” Manusov said about the curriculum. “You learn, for example, the heart and
circulation, all at once and you put it all together from the very beginning. Normal, abnormal, autonomy,physiology, all those things right in the module. Then you also pair it from a very early stage, [with] clinical. You start on day one seeing patients. … In fact, in several schools in Texas they don’t see a patient till their third year. Never.”

Interprofessional education teaches students in the classroom and in the community how to communicate with and understand the roles of other professionals.

“We’re making this investment for several reasons,” Ronnau said of interprofessional education. “Among them that we’ve learned in the literature, the research confirms this, that one of the major causes for errors that occur in hospitals or clinics or other medical studies is that, simply, people don’t communicate with each other.”

Students will learn to communicate with each other in small group activities as well as through helping the local community, using their skills and working side by side with individuals in other careers.

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