Many of you have probably heard that we’re investigating the viability of opening a medical school at UIW.
The question I’ve been asked repeatedly since this process began last summer is, “Why?” It’s true that starting a medical school from scratch is an intricate and highly expensive proposition. It’s fair to say that if we do open a medical school, it would be the most complex task most of us have ever undertaken at UIW.
“Why, then, are we even considering a medical school? The answer is rooted in our 132-year history. In other words, ‘Mission drives vision.’”
Why, then, are we even considering a medical school? The answer is rooted in our 132-year history. In other words, “Mission drives vision.”
From early on, health care has been an integral part of Incarnate Word. For example, we have the oldest accredited nursing program west of the Mississippi River, and today, UIW nurses are found throughout Bexar County in hospitals, clinics and in many other settings.
During the last decade, we’ve developed the most comprehensive academic health care programs of any private university in Texas through the addition of doctoral programs in pharmacy, optometry, nursing and physical therapy. Plus, we launched the world’s first center devoted to medical tourism research, something of growing importance given our proximity to Mexico. And we’re looking at starting a physician assistant program in the near future.
In fact, our health care programs have expanded to the point that we’re in the process of bringing them together under a separate UIW Health Science Center.
A medical school would be a natural extension of our health care programs.
There’s currently just one private medical school in the southwestern U.S., the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston (which hasn’t been affiliated with Baylor University since 1969). A UIW medical school would be the only one in our part of the country located at a faith-based university. Its focus would likely be on two areas of critical need in San Antonio and South Texas – pediatric and emergency care.
Opening a medical school would also allow us to meet another important part of our mission – providing access and opportunities to populations historically underserved by higher education. Sadly, Hispanics and African Americans are severely underrepresented as physicians in the U.S., much like they are in just about every other health care field. The students of a UIW medical school would reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Texas, where Hispanics and African Americans now make-up about half of the state’s population.
We’ll keep you posted on whether a medical school ends up being a fit for UIW.
In the meantime, let me close by taking this opportunity to bid farewell to Board members Alan Dreeben and Fully Clingman, who stepped down as active Trustees and have moved to Emeriti status. Both have been exemplary Trustees in their advocacy of UIW, and have also been instrumental in all that we’ve accomplished in the last few years. Please join me in thanking them for their outstanding service, although I reminded them they’ll always be on speed dial.
I encourage you to read the rest of this issue to catch-up on what else has been happening at Incarnate Word, including a profile on Board of Trustees member Joe Reyes.
Please remember, it’s because of your commitment to our community that we can continue fulfilling UIW’s goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith. An investment in higher education is something that will yield returns for a lifetime for you, your family and our community.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout 2013.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D.