UCD med school aims to retain students in state
June 1, 2010
AURORA, Colo. (AP) – Brandon Sklar’s first years at college won’t be marked by changing majors or working odd jobs.
The 18-year-old senior from Grandview High School will start a rigorous, eight-year program at the University of Colorado Denver in the fall. It’s an academic path that will include intensive seminars, summer research labs and a specific focus on building a career in medicine.
“I took (Advanced Placement) biology, AP anatomy, AP psychology. I really kind of tripled up on my sciences this year. I got interested in medicine,” Sklar said. “I knew (this year) I wanted to go to medical school.”
As one of the 10 students across the state participating in the University of Colorado’s Denver new Health Professions Program, Sklar will receive financial support for his early commitment to becoming a physician. Students will receive $40,000 in scholarships for their first four years at the university’s Denver campus, and an additional, unspecified sum for their following four years at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
According to program officials, the joint program between the university’s College of Liberal Arts and its School of Medicine is meant to encourage a new generation of diverse, homegrown physicians.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can to increase representation from a number of different groups – educationally and financially disadvantaged students and rural students.
“Part of that is because we’re seeing a growing population in the U.S. of underrepresented minorities,” said Charles Ferguson, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Integrated Biology and the director of the scholarship program. “The second real important goal there is to keep them in Colorado. A lot of our students go out of state to go to medical school and often times don’t come back.”
For Sklar, who was born in the Philippines, the appeal of becoming a doctor is both local and international.
“Being in the Philippines, it made me want to help out in a third world country. Experiencing the slums and the lack of medical practice. We take so much for granted. Medicine can really enhance someone’s life, and so many people in the world don’t get that luxury,” Sklar said. “I was a kid and my parents took me on road trips a lot. I’ve been to so many places already, but if I could pick anywhere to be, it would be Colorado.”
The program will include summer seminars and research labs, elements that specifically appealed to Sklar.
“That’s one of the most exciting things about the program,” Sklar said. “I really haven’t done clinical experience yet, and it’s just the fact that not only I get paid for pursuing a career, but also I get that experience. Experience is the most valuable thing to have.”