Master of Biomedical Science offering students new opportunities at UIW
Emilee Bell recalls a patient experience at Boston Children’s Hospital that solidified her goal to become a doctor one day.
“A young girl with an eating disorder came in. She was slumped next to her mother, while her dad sat across from the physician and me. The dad recounted how her symptoms and emotional state had severely worsened after leaving an inpatient facility,” she said.
Bell recalled how their desperation made a lasting impact.
“I saw how valuable physicians are as a source of relief and knowledge for families in pain. That memory motivates me to become a physician, to be the dependable hope that comforts and provides healing for people in their most vulnerable moments,” she added.
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., she moved to Boston for a job as a research assistant in the Psychiatry Department at Boston Children’s Hospital. She was not accepted to any of the medical schools she had applied to, so she had to rethink her plan. Today, Bell is a member of the inaugural class of the Master of Biomedical Science (M.B.S.) program at UIW.
“I’m able to work towards a master’s degree in one year, while I re-apply to medical school. We’re getting firsthand clinical experience, since we’re training to become EMTs. We have a full anatomy lab where we can learn from the real human body, rather than pictures alone,” she said.
A full-time one-year program, the M.B.S. curriculum integrates graduate-level biomedical science coursework, research exposure and early clinical experiences. Its multidisciplinary course of study is designed to bolster student’s competitiveness for medical school and other related pursuits in health care.
Program Director Dr. Pangela Dawson noted that historically, programs like this were created as post-baccalaureate certification programs solely for students who had previously applied to medical school. However, the M.B.S. is also excellent for students pursuing a variety of health care degrees, including those awaiting the opening of the university’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) next fall.
“It also prepares students for their degrees in physical therapy, optometry and other careers in the health care profession and medical sciences,” Dawson said.
“Our program is unique because we focus on giving the students a broader look at health care, with a stronger background in graduate level courses in health and research. The most unique aspect is the foundational patient care exposure. Most programs today are looking for students with exposure to hands-on patient care,” she added.
Ste’Von Voice grew up in Terrell, Texas, imagining he would someday become a musical entertainer. But now he sees his true calling to become a forensic pathologist. UIW’s M.B.S. program will help him achieve his goal.
Before coming to UIW, Voice worked in forensic pathology, doing autopsies for the medical examiner’s office at Southwestern Institute for Forensic Sciences in Dallas.
“The experience of completing over 2,000 autopsies led me to my pursuit of becoming a physician. I believe individuals could be more self aware in regards to progressive or damaging lifestyle choices. Choices such as the company you keep, nutrition, and honesty with yourself and others. These few things can be a start to preventing a premature death that’s within your own control,” he noted.
Voice added the M.B.S. has been a perfect fit for him.
“I enjoy the unity between classmates within the program and how that is encouraged by our academic faculty,” he said.
Though enrollment is set at 50, a small percentage is accepted over that amount. Dawson said the program currently has 53 students enrolled and there is already much interest in the next admissions cycle.
“It’s a master’s program in one year, which is intense, but the students are grateful for supportive faculty and staff. Students understand this program will prep them for the next level, perhaps dental school, medical school or becoming a physician’s assistant,” she added.
“I think this program really spotlights what the university is all about. I’m proud of the fact we are preparing our future workforce for much needed professional jobs in San Antonio and and beyond,” she said.
Both Bell and Voice have applied to UIW’s osteopathic medical school and are determined to become physicians someday.
“Getting into medical school is not meant to be easy,” acknowledged Bell. “We don’t want just anyone performing open heart surgery on us or our loved ones. It takes hard work and determination, so when I had to sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) a second time, I understood it was simply what I had to do to achieve my goal. I studied more and did it. The first time a patient says ‘Thank you Dr. Bell, what you did has really helped me,’ will be the day that makes it all worth it.”
By Rebecca Esparza ’99 BBA ’03 MBA