By Al Bravo, College of Medicine – Phoenix, July 8, 2010
PHOENIX – Twenty-four high school students from across the Valley are spending five weeks this summer learning firsthand what it takes to be a healthcare professional, thanks to Med-Start, an innovative summer program offered by the Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.
Med-Start is an intensive academic program for Arizona students entering their senior year of high school who are interested in careers in the health professions. The program encourages students who are of underrepresented or diverse backgrounds, living in rural areas or are economically or educationally disadvantaged to pursue healthcare careers by helping them prepare for college life, introducing them to health career opportunities and informing them about educational pathways.
Part of the program funding this year came from a Phoenix Suns Charities grant and the Arizona Area Health Education Centers program.
Several thousand students have participated in Med-Start since 1969, when it was developed on the UA College of Medicine Tucson campus to improve healthcare in rural and economically disadvantaged areas and to increase the number of minority healthcare professionals in Arizona. In 2004, Med-Start grew to include a second program in Phoenix.
“The Med-Start program is an intensive experience in which the students acquire basic medical knowledge while learning about healthcare careers,” said Patricia Rodriguez, associate director of the Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. “In addition, they’re introduced to college life, which is vital to students entering health professions.”
Through July 10, Med-Start participants will explore a variety of health professions, engage in hands-on presentations and take college-level coursework in the fundamentals of healthcare, English and study skills.
An additional group of 39 Arizona high school students attended the first Med-Start Express, a four-day, three-night conference on the UA campus in Tucson June 16-19.
Med-Start began as an initiative under UA College of Medicine Founding Dean Dr. Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal. The late Dr. DuVal probably is best remembered for his role in shaping the fledgling college and providing support for numerous programs and initiatives that have contributed to recognition of the college as one of the top medical schools in the West.
Generous gifts from family and friends established The Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Memorial Med-Start Endowment, which pays tribute to the founding dean while supporting this program.
In 1969, just after the college opened its doors to its first class of medical students, DuVal helped establish the Med-Start program, lending his support to a group of idealistic and innovative minority medical students who championed the cause. These students included three who later completed their medical degrees at the UA.
“The real magic of Med-Start is revealed in the personal stories of career success,” Rodriguez said. “Whether the youth who have benefited from Med-Start became direct-care providers or chose career paths outside of the health professions, many have had a tremendous impact on the lives of others.”