Students at the new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine marked their first milestone since starting classes in July- earning their white coats.
The program is trying to set itself apart from traditional medical schools with a communication-based curriculum meant to teach students empathy and to be active listeners.
Simulation and modeling tools help students learn how to provide optimal care, and students are paired with a physician coach to help with professional and personal development.
“Our singular mission is to create the best future physicians,” said Dr. Stuart Flynn, the dean of the medical school. “We want to ensure that our medical students are equipped to be skilled and empathetic physicians when they graduate.”
Some of the inaugural students are in familiar territory- 12 out of 60 are TCU alumni.
“I know some of the professors and physicians working at the school from my time as an undergrad,” said McKenna Chalman, who graduated from TCU in the spring. “I am still quite familiar with the campus and the Fort Worth area, and several of my classmates from undergrad school have matriculated into this program with me as well.”
Flynn said students, both TCU alumni and others, have been adjusting quickly to the program.
“Students spent the first few months adapting to our unique curriculum – a patient-centered approach that will produce compassionate, innovative and life-long learners,” Flynn said.
The medical school has already begun providing care to some in the Fort Worth community and receiving one-on-one mentoring sessions with faculty clinicians.
“This will allow them to build long-term relationships with patients, which is critical to maintaining the empathy they bring with them
The students each come from unique and diverse backgrounds, Chalman said.
“The admissions committee did a great job of seeking this diversity as well as identifying students who are not only academically strong, but are also great communicators, are altruistic and empathetic,” Chalman said.
The average for graduating physicians is close to $200,000, Flynn said. Therefore, each of the students will have their first-year tuition paid for by the H. Paul Dorman Charter Scholarship program.
Chalman said the scholarship represents the commitment being made to the medical school.
“The gift allows students to concentrate on their studies with a significantly diminished financial burden,” Flynn said. “We must continue to grow our scholarship funding as we attract new students to join our school.”