White coats donated to 124 TTUHSC medical students


EL PASO, Texas — A total of 124 students received their first white coats Saturday in a ceremony at Foster School of Medicine’s Class of 2026, marking the start of their careers.

The white coat ceremony marks the beginning of a medical student’s first year.

In addition to receiving the mantle, students take an oath to recognize and affirm their choice to serve patients and provide world-class health care with compassion in front of faculty, family, and peers.

For the fifth year in a row, Dionisio Alvarez, MD, and his wife, Elise Alvarez, have sponsored medical student half-white coats, even though class sizes have increased dramatically.

With 124 students, the class of 2026 is one of the largest in the history of Foster School of Medicine. TTUHSC El Paso aims to increase the class size to 150 in the near future. In 2020, the couple also established the Dionysio and Elise Alvarez Medical Scholarship Endowment.

This year’s event was held at the Starlight Events Center and was attended by 124 students, including 19 students from El Paso and Las Cruces. Through Foster School of Medicine, the brightest students in our Borderplex have the opportunity to apply to their hometown medical school to develop a passion for medicine and community service.

Since its opening in 2009, nearly 800 Foster School of Medicine graduates are or are about to become practicing physicians.

In 2008, before Foster School of Medicine opened, El Paso County’s average number of direct care physicians per 100,000 population was 75% lower than the national average and 37% lower than the United States average. the state. Today, the deficit is as low as 60% across the country and 28% across Texas.

Maria Black, a graduate of the University of Kansas and Tulane University, said the white coat represents her responsibility to help the community through education, advocacy and medicine. She understands that she won’t have to do it alone, but as part of a prestigious and comprehensive healthcare team. As a former music student, she is expected to join the ensemble.

Black said: “At music school you are frowned upon and I like to play in a band. You play not just for yourself, but for the whole band.

“Likewise, you are not a doctor alone; you are part of a health care team made up of nurses, caregivers, pharmacists, rehabilitation workers and various specialists,” he said.

Music school also helped Black learn to play under pressure. It is a challenge that you will encounter during the exam and subsequently practice medicine.

“Music forces you to filter out all the extraneous noise and remove inner noise like self-doubt,” Black said. “It’s about accepting that you’re on a stage, or in my case now enrolled in medical school. I’m here for a reason, and I deserve to be here.

The Foster School of Medicine has a Spanish medical requirement that helps provide culturally competent care to students during medical school and throughout their careers. It was one of the first medical schools in the United States to incorporate medical Spanish into its curriculum.

Students at Foster School of Medicine gain clinical experience during the first year of the course. This is an unconventional approach at most medical schools in the United States, where students typically begin clinical rotations in the third and fourth years of their medical training.


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