Education

Calling all doctors. Why Fort Worth’s new M.D. school needs about 600 physicians

Fort Worth’s new medical school is looking for about 600 local physicians who can help mentor and train future doctors.

The medical school is a partnership between TCU and the University of North Texas Health Science Center, UNTHSC. This month, the school opens with a class of 60 students.

Medical school leaders said students will get to learn under a mentor program that places them in physician offices where they can learn on the ground while building relationships with patients.

The school is introducing the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, or LIC, model as a four-year program. The program lets students train and learn under the supervision of a physician in practice, who is known as a preceptor. Over time, medical students develop relationships with patients and mentors.

“In a LIC model, students have the opportunity to really become part of the healthcare team, gaining valuable experience as well as an ongoing, individualized feedback on their patient care skills in a real-world setting,” said Dr. Stephen Scott, senior associate dean of educational affairs and accreditation for the medical school, in a press release.

“It promotes the ability of students to build relationships with patients and to provide the care and connection we all strive for,” Scott said.

A unique M.D. program

Harvard University and Duke University have used the LIC model of training in a year-long program. But in Fort Worth, the entire school class will take part in this clinical experience during their four years of study.

“The medical school is very different and one of our biggest differences is also in our clinical work,” said Dr. Shanna Combs, a LIC director over OB/GYN. “Our students will actually start seeing patients the second week of medical school.”

Students are going to work with family medicine and internal medicine doctors every other week for a half day for the first phase of the curriculum, Combs said. This will allow them to interact with patients from the beginning of their studies.

When students shift to learning medical specialties, they will learn these at the same time over a year’s time, she said. During this phase, students will be working one-on-one with eight doctors for about a year, she said.

“They are going to work one-on-one with the physicians again a half-day a week but in all the different specialties,” Combs said. “So on Monday morning they might be in a family medicine clinic and Monday afternoon they might be in an OB/GYN clinic.”

Combs said the program takes students to clinics across the community so they can learn.

“I’m constantly asked, what’s our school? Where’s our hospital and things like that. I say, ‘Well, Tarrant County is our school and our hospital.”

Doctors needed

Combs said they need physicians who are willing to work with students for an entire year. Under this program, students can follow patients throughout the year under the guidance of a professional doctor.

For example, a student working with an OB/GYN doctor could follow a patient throughout the nine months of a pregnancy and into delivery.

Combs said they have been trying to send a message to Tarrant County’s medical community: “School is starting and we would like you to participate in medical education.”

The medical school is seeking applicants now.

Benefits gained by physician preceptors include a stipend, library access to TCU and UNTHSC, life-long learning and development as faculty and a teaching reimbursement.

Doctors can also earn can also earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. Texas physicians must complete a certain amount of credits to maintain a Texas medical license. School officials said CME helps doctors learn about new and developing areas in their field.

For more information on how to apply: MEDClerkship@tcu.edu

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
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