BA/BS-MD Program Garners Colorado Health Foundation Grant
The bachelor of arts/bachelor of science-doctor of medicine (BA/BS-MD) program, which was established a little more than a year ago, was awarded a $1.88 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation in May. The program’s mission is to provide Colorado with well-educated physicians for their underserved communities. The eight-year curriculum track begins with the students earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado Denver with additional programmatic offerings to prepare students for medical school. The students who are accepted into the program have a reserved seat at the School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus.
This grant, payable over three years, will inspire and enable exceptional Colorado high school students from rural and economically under-resourced backgrounds to pursue the rigorous BA/BS-MD program. The program focuses specifically on readying students for primary care practice.
“The BA/BS-MD program makes a primary care career more viable for young students who have seen firsthand the large and growing health care needs of their own communities,” says Jerry Wartgow, CU Denver chancellor. “The Colorado Health Foundation champions programs that fill Colorado’s health care gaps, and we’re thrilled that they are creating futures for our students.”
The Colorado Health Foundation grant is the largest gift to date for the BA/BS-MD program, a major priority for CU Denver and the state’s only accredited public medical school, the CU School of Medicine. The program is at the forefront of a growing number of baccalaureate/MD programs nationally that allow students to work toward a physician career from the moment they leave high school. CU Denver’s program is distinct in that it not only addresses student needs, but also the needs of Colorado communities.
Despite CU’s outstanding track record educating high-caliber physicians, medical school demographics here and nationwide do not mirror those of the broader population. Meanwhile, 13 of Colorado’s 64 counties have one or fewer practicing primary care physicians—forcing citizens to travel many miles for quality care. Even in Colorado’s more heavily populated communities, there are many medically underserved pockets due to economic and cultural constraints.
“The Colorado Health Foundation supports this effort as a result of the deep impact the program is likely to have in diversifying and strengthening Colorado’s future primary care physician work force,” said Colleen Church, a program officer with the Colorado Health Foundation.
The close relationship between the Denver Campus and Anschutz Medical Campus makes the university an ideal base for the program—which incorporates an extensive undergraduate health careers advising program, and lab opportunities that give undergraduates hands-on access to medical research. The first BA/BS-MD cohort will enter the CU School of Medicine in 2014.
Zane Sternberg was selected as part of the initial 2010-11 cohort and recently completed his freshman year at CU Denver. “I have lived on a small ranch outside the rural town of La Veta my entire life,” he says. “Many people have asked me whether or not I was ready to ‘narrow down’ my career choices so early in life. But when I think of going into medicine, I feel as though more doors are being opened than closed: it is such a diverse field. I could teach, volunteer, work in a large hospital, or even practice in a small town—like my parents.”