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‘Road to 2020’ continues Nearly 1,500 medical school applications received, so far

As of last Thursday, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine had received 1,476 applications for its charter class after the Liaison Committee on Medical Education granted preliminary accreditation Oct. 15.

“If there is such thing as cloud nine, I think we’re on cloud 27,” School of Medicine Founding Dean Francisco Fernandez said about the LCME granting preliminary accreditation. “I don’t think there’s another place on this Earth that has had the good fortune that we’ve had and, you know, the LCME recognizing all of the opportunities that are here and the difference that we can make … is just an incredible honor and privilege to be able to be, as [President Guy] Bailey says, ‘One.’”

The approval from the LCME allows the UTRGV School of Medicine to implement its academic programs and curriculum.

Scheduled to open in Fall 2016, the medical school plans to enroll 50 students into its inaugural class.

“We were ready to roll thanks to the good work of the people of the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service,” Fernandez said. “They really set it up for us. They sent out an immediate email alert, an email blast, to all the students that were applying to medical schools.”

Fernandez said between 200 and 300 applicants will be interviewed during the first week of November and finalists will be chosen shortly after.

“We’re still receiving applications. The first week of November we will be, in essence, doing our first interviews,” the dean said. “In Jan. 15, we have to submit our list of who the future class is going to be and then we wait until the big
computer in the sky makes the match.”

The LCME granting preliminary accreditation is the latest step in the development of the UTRGV School of Medicine. Fernandez said the second site visit from the LCME will take place in 2017 and the final in 2019.

If provisional accreditation is granted, the LCME will conduct a full survey in the fourth year of the charter class to determine if the school will be granted full accreditation.

Fernandez said the medical school will be a distributed campus, similar to UTRGV. The Edinburg campus will concentrate on classroom sessions.
The Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen will be used by the medical school’s “clinical faculty, the Center for Simulation, the Clinical Research Unit, our patient and medical library, and interprofessional education initiative,” he said.

“And yes, while our curriculum is a longitudinal integrated experience, the bulk of the clinical experience, clinical skills verification and simulation-based training will be in [Harlingen],” Fernandez said.

A 15,000-square-foot Smart Hospital complex and a virtual anatomy and histology laboratory are under construction in Edinburg, according to the university’s website.

“We are more than ready. We are awaiting that day that we open the doors and have the students walk in and start that first day of class,” Fernandez said. “We’ve got the faculty, we’ve got the curriculum. The building is the only thing that’s not ready but it should be ready sometime between January and February. So, we are on a roll and ready to go.”

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