UNM recruiting high school students to become doctors in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico has been struggling to get doctors, but the University of New Mexico has found a way to recruit a lot of them — who want to live here.

Michelle Sandoval and Deanna Gonzales are proud to be from New Mexico.

“I’ve pretty much grown up in the Tijeras,” said Michelle Sandoval, a UNM medical student.

“From the South Valley in Albuquerque,” said Deanna Gonzales, a UNM undergrad student.

And even more proud to be accepted into UNM’s BA/MD program.

“The financial support as well as academic support was really essential to me. I am a first generation college student,” said Gonzales.

UNM’s medical school has been going after high-achieving, well-rounded high school students around the state for its program. Twenty-eight students are automatically accepted into UNM’s medical school. They get a full-ride for their undergraduate education, but there’s a catch. They have to practice medicine in New Mexico when they become doctors.

“Growing our own, we believe is what’s really going to make a difference for New Mexico,” Valerie Romero-Leggott, executive director, BA/MD Program.

The program started in 2006 and as agreed, those first wave of doctors are now making their way back to practice in local communities — communities struggling to get doctors.

“We are a state where 22 of 23 of our counties are health profession shortage areas,” said Romero-Leggott.

Students said understanding the unique culture and struggles their patients face will help them be better doctors.

“Even just to see your doctor, having to go into the city is a 20-25 minute drive,” said Gonzales.

“How I can help them not just medically, but as a whole person,” said Sandoval.

There are a total of 41 graduates from the BA/MD program that are currently in residency or internships across the country.

There will be a General Information Session on the UNM Campus on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 10:00 a.m.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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