January 16, 1998


FORT WORTH, Texas -- Earning a degree in medicine usually means four years of college and four years of medical school. For those dedicated to becoming physicians or surgeons, a program to decrease the time in school while still receiving a medical education is now available.

Education forces in Fort Worth and Dallas are now offering a seven-year degree program. Developed by the University of North Texas Health Science Center's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) in Fort Worth and The University of Texas at Dallas (U.T. Dallas), the institutions will make it possible to earn a bachelor's degree after three years at U.T. Dallas plus one year of medical school at TCOM, then the medical degree is awarded after three additional years at TCOM.

To allow students to transition into the medical school environment while still fulfilling their undergraduate education, the fourth and final year of undergraduate studies will be combined with the first year of medical school.

According to Dr. Ronald Yasbin, Head of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at U.T. Dallas, most college seniors take elective courses during the last two semesters, so the first year of the medical school's curriculum fits into their schedules without taking away important college course requirements.

"Using the collaborative approach developed by TCOM and U.T. Dallas, students will be able to receive their bachelor's degrees from U.T. Dallas after finishing their first year of medical school," said Dr. Yasbin. "An early focus on their medical education at TCOM will greatly benefit the many pre-med students at U.T. Dallas, especially those with an interest in becoming primary care physicians."

The summer prior to students' junior years, they would take the Medical College Admissions Testing (MCAT) exam and complete a preliminary application to be considered for TCOM admission. During their junior years at U.T. Dallas, they would be notified of whether they were accepted to TCOM.

By the end of their junior years, the U.T. Dallas undergraduate students would have completed their required core courses and TCOM admission requirements. Prerequisite courses at U.T. Dallas that are accepted by TCOM include biology, chemistry, calculus and physics.

"During their three years of undergraduate work at U.T. Dallas, students are encouraged to interact at the health science center and learn more about TCOM in clinical settings, research labs, and internships," said Dr. David Richards, president of the UNT Health Science Center. "Allowing U.T. Dallas students to expand their education and receive medical training at TCOM gives the students a real career advantage and it gives the institutions a real recruiting advantage."

The program is expected to begin this year. Both U.T. Dallas and the UNT Health Science Center are committed to promote the program starting with the present recruitment season. In addition, faculty from U.T. Dallas are including the fundamentals of osteopathic medicine and the research interests of the health science center in their discussions with students at U.T. Dallas.

For more information on the seven-year degree program, contact TCOM's Admissions department at (817) 735-2204 or U.T. Dallas' Admissions department at (972) 883-2342. The U.T. Dallas website also includes information at www.utdallas.edu/dept/biology.

U.T. Dallas provides outstanding education and research programs from the freshman through Ph.D. levels and ranks among the top Texas public institutions in terms of student achievement and faculty research. The U.T. Dallas freshman class regularly ranks first or second in average SAT scores among Texas public universities. Additionally, U.T. Dallas students often are most successful in achieving entrance to professional schools. Specifically, last year, 72 percent of the students from U.T. Dallas who applied to medical or dental schools were admitted.