Thursday, May 30, 2019

By Jennifer Berghom

DALLAS, TEXAS – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine has won the Texas Medical Association-Medical Student Section (TMA-MSS) 2018-2019 Chapter of the Year Award for its efforts in community service and recruitment of TMA members.

UTRGV medical students received the award at the TMA’s annual conference, TexMed 2019, earlier this month in Dallas.

In addition, medical students Amanda Arreola (MS4) and Sarah Miller (MS3) were elected to chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Medical Student Section Executive Council. Patrick Ojeaga (MS3), UTRGV TMA chapter president, and Jared Sperling (MS2) were chosen to be members of the TMA-MSS Board Council and serve on board committees. 

Arreola, a member of the medical school’s inaugural class, said she is proud that subsequent classes have continued and expanded the chapter’s involvement.

“We were just setting it up, getting ourselves a presence established on campus, but they really took it and ran with it,” she said.

The TMA noted that UTRGV’s participation in TMA-sponsored events provided bicycle helmets to children and offered vaccinations to more than 60 residents, and other initiatives trained them how to use proper bleeding control techniques to save lives and administer naloxone auto-injectors to stop the effects of an opioid drug overdose.

Of all the community service activities the chapter engaged in, students agree that the immunization event was among the most meaningful because it was an example of the School of Medicine fulfilling its mission to engage the communities it serves and provide excellent care.

“It was really great to see how students from all classes came together to administer vaccinations to our community members,” Sperling said. “To be able to partner with the Student Run Clinic and positively impact our community as medical students is one of the many things that makes our school so unique and so special.”
The students said they were honored to receive this award, considering the UTRGV School of Medicine is a young school, and said they are grateful for support from School of Medicine leadership and faculty, as well as support from the Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society.

“They make sure we’ve had places to stay, that we’re taken care of at conferences,” Miller said. “They always engage with us and they are a big part of why we are so successful as a chapter.”

Dr. John H. Krouse, executive vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, praised the medical students for their commitment to community service and offered congratulations on the recognition by TMA-MSS.

“These students have embraced the School of Medicine’s mission to serve the Rio Grande Valley community and advance health care in this region,” he said. “By engaging with Valley residents through showing them how to stop bleeding, offering vaccinations and handing out bicycle helmets to children at health fairs, our students have been excellent ambassadors of the School of Medicine, demonstrating our commitment to improving the health and well-being of the people of the Valley.”

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) created its Medical Student Section in the 1970s to gain the student perspective among its members and receive input from medical students on TMA and American Medical Association’s (AMA) policy-making processes. The TMA-MSS now has more than 6,500 members.

The TMA began offering the Chapter of the Year Award in 1998 to recognize TMA-MSS chapters for their leadership, dedication and service to TMA and the AMA.

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The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.