What: Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway Graduation Ceremony
When: Wednesday, May 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Health Sciences Innovation Building, Forum, 1670 E. Drachman St., Tucson
Note: Media who wish to attend should contact Mona Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson will honor students, graduates and alumni who have completed the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP), an intensive medical school preparation program for students who face considerable obstacles in their paths to medical school. Students who successfully complete the program are guaranteed admission to the medical college.
P-MAP was launched in 2014 and is open to Arizona residents with a focus on underrepresented students such as those from rural, tribal or border communities; speakers of Spanish, Navajo or other Indigenous languages; and first-generation college students.
The program offers participants mentorship, academic and professional development skills, research opportunities and hands-on clinical experience — and the opportunity for tight-knit friendships among members of each class.
The ceremony will honor those completing three separate milestones: P-MAP alumni who are completing residency training programs; P-MAP students who are graduating from the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson with medical degrees; and current P-MAP students who are completing the program and preparing to enter medical school in July. To date, 63 P-MAP students have entered medical school.
The ceremony will feature speeches from several College of Medicine – Tucson leaders, including Michael M.I. Abecassis, MD, MBA, dean of the College of Medicine – Tucson, and Victoria Murrain, DO, vice dean of diversity, equity and inclusion. There will also be a ceremony in which Carlos Gonzales, MD, FAAFP, assistant dean of curricular affairs and member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, will drape Angela Monetathchi, of the Comanche Nation, with a blanket to welcome her as she prepares to begin medical school in July.
Expanding care to underserved communities
By targeting students from populations underrepresented in the medical field, P-MAP supports the creation of a more diverse and culturally competent health care workforce.
“I really needed that steppingstone from undergrad to medical school,” said Marisela Mariscal, MD, a member of P-MAP’s inaugural class. “Had I gone straight into med school, I don’t know that I would have been prepared.”
Dr. Mariscal, who is of Laguna Pueblo descent, completed rotations at the San Xavier Indian Health Services center and several rural hospitals, and plans to continue working with Native and other underserved populations. Through her residency in family medicine, she has worked with patients who are uninsured, patients in the criminal justice system, patients experiencing psychiatric crises and patients facing substance abuse problems.
“I’ve grown a passion for underserved populations and am learning ways to help them,” Dr. Mariscal said. “I’m thankful my residency has allowed that.”
Throughout her childhood on the Navajo Nation, Lacy Manuelito, MD, received her health care exclusively through Indian Health Service. She served this population as a medical student and then pediatrics resident, rotating through several clinics including the Fort Defiance Pediatric Clinic in her hometown.
“When I was younger, they didn’t have many Native physicians working in the hospital,” said Dr. Manuelito, a member of P-MAP’s first class.
Informed by her experience, she knows firsthand what many of her patients’ families might be facing and can tailor her advice accordingly.
“A lot of reservations have high rates of poverty and often are food deserts. Eating five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t feasible for some of these families,” Dr. Manuelito said. “We need to figure out alternatives to help these families have a healthy diet.”
Many P-MAP alumni hope to stay in Arizona and serve marginalized and rural communities, where the need for primary care physicians is greatest.
“Arizona has always been my home. My family is from the Pascua Yaqui tribe, right here in Tucson,” said Jeremey Gneck, MD, another member of P-MAP’s inaugural class. “I want to continue with the advocacy and research that I have done.”
P-MAP alumni say their connections with one another have been invaluable in their success. At next week’s event, the incoming class of P-MAP students will be guests in the audience and have the opportunity to network with those who went before them. It will be another chance for students to form bonds as they encourage and support one another.
“This isn’t something that I’ve accomplished on my own. Numerous people behind the scenes have cheered me on and supported me,” Dr. Gneck said. “It was nice to have that built-in cheerleader, someone who can push you. You need that support system to get you to your ultimate goal.”