The University of North Texas College of Science is proud to partner with Midland College on the Primary Care Pathway Program, where students spend time at both Midland College and UNT to receive an accelerated degree in three years with a clear path to medical school ahead, essentially allowing students to complete eight years of school in seven. Affan Ahmed was one of the first students to participate in this program, receiving a BA in Biology from the UNT College of Science before starting D.O. school at UNTHSC-TCOM.
Affan said there were many aspects that made the program appealing to his academic goals. "It made becoming a physician as rewarding and efficient as possible and gave me early opportunities to shadow and work alongside physicians, which has been very beneficial in my learning," he said. "Thanks to the program, I am currently in the middle of my first semester of the second year of medical school and I am absolutely loving it."
The Primary Care Pathway Program is an initiative that works to address the current physician shortage in the state of Texas. "I want to be directly involved in helping fix that problem," said Affan. "The program is geared towards addressing this shortage by decreasing the time needed to become a doctor while also providing early exposure to medicine to students on the track."
In Affan's experience, the most challenging part of the program was taking several higher level science courses in the same academic semester. "Traditionally, these courses are spread out through four years of undergrad; however, in order to meet the program's expectation of early graduation, you will need to take a lot of these difficult courses at the same time," he said. "This can be hard to manage at times when you also have extracurricular requirements such as volunteering and shadowing to meet."
Affan's final year of the program at UNT began when the COVID-19 outbreak was just beginning. Taking the hardest courses yet during this stressful time was an additional challenge but Affan said he loved taking higher level sciences classes like biochemistry, pharmacology, and immunology because he found them genuinely interesting. He also benefitted from learning with our outstanding faculty, like Dr. Amie Lund of UNT Biological Sciences.
"Pharmacology is a very difficult course to begin with but Dr. Lund is an amazing professor who made it easier to understand while still challenging us and keeping us working hard," he said. "The information I learned in her class has been extremely helpful. It provided great foundation while also teaching us some of the exact same things we are taught in medical school. Pharmacology was the hardest course I took at UNT but also easily my favorite."
Working in the field of Primary Care as a physician is Affan's ultimate goal after medical school. "I also want to do some of my work in rural Texas communities. Spending two years of my undergrad in West Texas showed me firsthand how bad the physician shortage can get in our states and how much worse it is in rural communities. I want to help."
Affan mentioned that he would highly recommend this program to others. "In addition to saving you time and money while also giving you great exposure, the program has amazing mentors, older students and professors," he said. "These people have been extremely important in my time with the program. I can say without a doubt that I would not have made it this far if it weren't for them."
To learn more about the Primary Care Pathway Program, visit https://www.midland.edu/academics/university-partnerships/unt.php