Two New Programs Put UH Undergraduates on Fast Track to Medical School

Two New Programs Put UH Undergraduates on Fast Track to Medical School
Agreements Signed with UTHealth and UTMB to Result in Overlapping B.S./M.D. Degrees for First-Time Students

Medical SchoolTwo new dual-degree programs will put University of Houston (UH) undergraduates on a fast track to becoming physicians.

Partnering with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), UH will allow entering students to earn credit hours toward both a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from UH and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from either UTHealth or UTMB in seven years instead of the usual eight required for becoming a doctor. 

Starting with the fall 2013 semester, 10 students will be hand selected each year to enter an intensive pre-med program at UH. After three years, they will be permitted to enter medical school at either UTHealth or UTMB in what otherwise would be their senior year at UH. The courses they take in their first year of medical school will be designed to count toward their fourth-year requirements, earning them a B.S. from UH.

“We, at UTMB, are proud partners in this innovative approach to shorten the time pre-medical students can become a physician without diminishing or minimizing the skills and knowledge needed to become a doctor,” said Dr. Lauree Thomas, UTMB’s associate dean of admissions and student affairs. “UTMB has trained more physicians than any other Texas institution, and we’re very proud to enter into this new era of collaboration that will, ultimately, benefit the people of Texas.” 

During their three years at UH, these students will be enrolled in The Honors College. In addition to taking rigorous science and math courses, they will broaden their education by taking a capstone UH honors course called The Human Situation. This two-semester course provides shared and open conversation concerning the most important matters for human beings. Upon completion, students develop critical reasoning and enhanced communication skills, as well as become familiar with central philosophical, political, historical and scientific issues that have dominated the history of Western thinking.

The students also will minor in the Medicine and Society Program in The Honors College. This program promotes an interdisciplinary understanding of health and health care through academic courses, research, student internships, scholarly and public conferences, visiting speakers, and fieldwork that includes both domestic travel and study abroad opportunities.

“These courses match up better with the Medical College Admission Test,” said UH chemistry professor Simon G. Bott. “In addition to the intensive science courses required of pre-med students, we also will offer classes geared toward behavioral science and the humanities. This is a more competency-based approach than just coursework. More and more medical schools have been realizing the need to more effectively incorporate social responsibility competencies in their training.”

Bott is the director of a newly launched program for students planning for a career in the health professions. The Honors Program in the Health Professions is a joint venture between The Honors College and the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, bridging the cultures of science to those of the liberal arts. Bott says this is all part of UH’s goal to graduate students who are both primed to immediately enter the workforce, as well as prepared to compete for entry into the best professional programs.

“UTHealth is committed to training physicians who will provide service to residents in the state of Texas. We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with University of Houston in this initiative,” said Dr. LaTanya J. Love, assistant dean for admissions and student affairs at UTHealth. “Our proximity to the University of Houston will allow us an opportunity to establish relationships with these students from their first undergraduate year and expose them to our students, faculty and the world’s largest medical center.”

- Lisa Merkl, University Communication