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UMass Chan BaccMD program a ‘pre-med boot camp’ for top students at UMass undergrad campuses

First class sends three med scholars to School of Medicine Class of 2019

  (From left), Anthony Tran, Jacqueline Tran and Elias Nammour, members of the Class of 2019

(From left) Anthony Tran, Jacqueline Tran and Elias Nammour, members of the Class of 2019

When Anthony Tran earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at UMass Boston last spring, he reached a significant family milestone: first to graduate college.

The aspiring doctor—also first in his family to graduate high school—is a member of the School of Medicine Class of 2019 at UMass Medical School and one of the first medical scholars to rise through the new BaccMD med school prep program. 

“I have had the opportunity to meet so many doctors, researchers and medical students at UMass Medical School through the BaccMD program and they all have their own perspectives and goals,” said Tran, of Randolph, whose parents emigrated to Massachusetts from Vietnam. “As I talked with them, I got a very wide range of what you can do with a career in medicine. Now I am on a path where my possibilities are endless and that’s very exciting.”

The BaccMD program was launched three years ago to support efforts at the four undergraduate UMass campuses in the early identification of talented students who are considering careers in medicine. Students apply during their sophomore year and are accepted into a three-year course of study to prepare them to apply and succeed at UMMS.

“Our focus is students who are educationally disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged and/or underrepresented in medicine in Massachusetts and/or in the United States,” said Mariann M. Manno, MD, EdM, FAAP, professor of pediatrics and associate dean for admissions. “One of the program’s goals is to increase diversity in the School of Medicine student body and in the health care workforce that we graduate.”

Elias Nammour, Jacqueline Tran and Anthony Tran, all members of the Class of 2019, are the first BaccMD scholars to enter UMMS. Scholars in the program participate as undergraduates in two residential summer enrichment programs at UMMS, a formal MCAT prep program and individualized mentoring.

“The goal is for students to be successful in the medical school application process and well prepared for the challenges of medical school,” Manno said.

Nammour, who graduated from UMass Lowell, said the first summer in the program was critical to his ability to navigate a career in the health sciences.

“I knew I wanted to go into medicine, but I didn’t know where to turn beside this program,” said Nammour, of Methuen. “It was Deborah Harmon Hines and other faculty who specifically prepared me for what they wanted to see in my medical school application. They wanted us to be the perfect medical students. It was pre-med boot camp.”

He was inspired to pursue medicine by the health care providers who treated his late grandfather.

“I became interested in medicine freshman year of college, in early October, when my grandfather, a loving and caring man, was rushed to the emergency room at Lawrence General Hospital,” he said. “Having been brought up in a close-knit Lebanese culture, I felt devastated to see one of my role models, the patriarch of our entire family, in a position of helplessness. I observed that some members of the medical staff instinctively knew how he was feeling, and were able and willing to somehow connect with him.

When his grandfather passed away soon after, Nammour realized the career he wanted to pursue.

“I realized that day that I needed to apply my talent, curiosity and energy to finding out more about healing the human body. I knew that personal interaction with patients and direct participation in their healing journey was something that I wanted to practice,” he said.

Jacqueline Tran, who graduated from UMass Dartmouth, said the second year of the BaccMD program was most beneficial to her career goals, as it offered an intense schedule of preparation for the medical school application and the MCAT test.

“Through the whole second summer of the program, we were working on our applications every day,” the Braintree native said. “My experience with the BaccMD program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the past four years of my life. I have learned so much and I have met so many different people in the medical field through the program. It was an eye-opening experience that solidified for me why I want to become a physician. I had so many unique opportunities that I otherwise would not have had.”

Anthony Tran said it was his high school biology teacher who inspired him to pursue a career in medicine, and the BaccMD mentors who helped him get to medical school.

“Most importantly, the BaccMD program gave me a powerful support system,” he said. “I knew so many wonderful physicians and UMMS staff before even starting my first day of medical school, who are all still here to support me in the years to come.”