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BaccMD Pathway Program illuminates path to medical school

Monica Tawadros, SOM ’21, shares her success with innovative program for UMass undergrads

Third-year School of Medicine student Monica Tawadros came to UMass Medical School by way of the Baccalaureate MD Pathway Program, more informally known as the BaccMD. The Lowell native and UMass Lowell graduate says she would not be where she is today without the support the program offers to UMass undergraduates from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine who want to gain entrance to medical school.

“It’s so daunting once you make that decision to become a doctor. It is so challenging, so competitive,” said Tawadros. “The BaccMD program was kind of that parent that I would have had who was a doctor [to tell] me what I would need and what I wouldn’t need.”

Tawadros is one of 10 students currently enrolled in the School of Medicine through the BaccMD program.

“We have identified processes and resources that are the ones that students need,” said Mariann Manno, MD, professor of pediatrics and associate dean for admissions. “Students who work through the selection process with us and engage in the work we outline for them are successful in medical school.”

The program, launched in 2013, provides UMass undergraduates from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine or from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or who are first generation college students, with the opportunity for provisional acceptance to UMass Medical School. BaccMD students improve their academic skills in critical thinking, problem solving, note taking, test taking strategies, time management and decision making; enhance their communication skills through writing, public speaking and mock interviews; and receive mentorship through the medical school admissions process.

“We help students at a young age develop a track to go either into medicine, ideally at UMMS, or another career path that they are just as passionate about,” said Paul Charles, project coordinator for the BaccMD program. “A lot of students think that just getting good grades is enough to get them into medical school. As part of this program, students come up with a plan for developing into the type of applicants not only UMass but other medical schools would be very interested in having matriculate.”

Dr. Manno recalls Anthony Tran, MD, SOM ’19, telling her that he saw a 5-year-old Vietnamese boy translating for his mother during one of two BaccMD summer experiences in which he shadowed providers and patients at the Family Health Center of Worcester. He said, “That was me at age 5, translating for my mother and the doctor. And here I am now in a program that will enable me to take care of patients who need doctors from diverse backgrounds who have an understanding of some of the tremendous challenges their patients face.” Dr. Tran is currently in residency in Boston, fulfilling the UMMS mission to train physicians who will practice in the commonwealth.

Interested UMass undergraduates can attend the BaccMD Annual Symposium being held at UMass Medical School on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Albert Sherman Center. Learn more about the program here.

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