Program paves way for aspiring medical students

HARLINGEN — Students aspiring to enter the medical field will soon have a clearer pathway toward that profession.

The Harlingen school district and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley signed a letter of intent Tuesday night. That enables both institutions to work toward the development of a high school to medical school program at the Harlingen School of Health Professions.

“This is a great opportunity for the Harlingen school district, for our children and our students,” said Board President Greg Powers. “It’s a phenomenal program.”

The program allows the district to identify aspiring medical students and move them into a track that will facilitate their entry in the UTRGV medical program, said Dr. John Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine.

“They can get a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and then have an opportunity to move into our school of medicine and become physicians,” Krouse said. “By working that way we can provide them with counseling and opportunities so they can graduate with an MD in eight years.”

This is a groundbreaking move for the district, said Veronica Kortan, administrator for Organizational Development for the Harlingen school district.

“When we first opened the Harlingen School of Health Professions we made a commitment to put these students at the front of the line for opportunities,” Kortan said. “Indeed, that’s what we have done today with our high school to medical school program.”

HSHP opened in 2014.

Special mention was given to the originality of the new program.

“We don’t have any organized programs of that sort with any school districts,” Krouse said. “This is a new initiative for us. We have enjoyed our partnership with Harlingen and with the talented folks and Dr. Cavazos and his vision. So it really allowed us to bring together the vision of both of our organizations for the good of our students.”

School Board Trustee Bobby Muniz pointed out that success in today’s world relies on relationships like that between the Harlingen school district and UTRGV.

“That’s exactly what we are doing here,” Muniz said.

The program is expected to begin in the summer of 2019.