Rio Velasquez and Rachelle Wanser are still in high school, but they have already experienced what life is like as medical students.
As the first participants in the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences Preceptorship, the high school juniors are spending five weeks shadowing faculty, working with students, attending lectures and learning about UNT Health Science Center.
For Rachelle, 17, the experience has intensified her drive to become a pediatrician.
"Being here has reassured me that this is something I really want to do," she said. "I have seen how hard it is, but it has made me want to go to medical school that much more."
The program, launched in January, introduces students to UNTHSC and puts them on a pathway to a science career, said Harlan P. Jones. Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Recruitment and Minority Affairs.
"The hope is that ultimately they will earn a degree in science and come back to UNTHSC to continue their education in the medical or biomedical fields," he said.
The preceptorship gives students a realistic look at the challenges they'll face in medical school, said Rustin Reeves, Ph.D., Professor of Integrative Physiology.
"At this age, kids say they want to go to medical school, but they don't really know what it is like," he said. "I want to give them a taste of a lot of activities so that when the time comes, they know what to expect."
For Rio, seeing a cadaver was unnerving but fascinating.
"It was so amazing to see how everything works," she said. "It was like looking at a textbook, yet completely different."
About 20 juniors in TABS will participate in the program. JP Morgan Chase Foundation is funding the preceptorship and a summer bridge program for incoming ninth graders.
TABS is a collaboration between UNTHSC, the Fort Worth Independent School District, the University of North Texas and Tarrant County College.
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