Completing their undergraduate work in just three years, two UNM School of Medicine (SOM) students who entered the first Bachelor of Arts to Doctor of Medicine Degree (BA/MD) Program class in 2006 participated in convocation ceremonies Friday, May 10, as the program's first two graduates.

Quynh-Anh Bui, a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, and John Tranchida from Clovis, N.M., received their medical degrees as part of an SOM initiative created seven years ago and supported by the New Mexico State Legislature to recruit talented New Mexico high school seniors from across the state who show proclivity and passion for the health sciences.

Bui, who grew up in Albuquerque's International District, will begin a family medicine internship program at UNM this summer; while Tranchida will perform a one-year internship in internal medicine at UNM before heading to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for an anesthesia residency.

"It's critical that we continue to recognize and nurture the academic talent in our small towns and communities, while developing practicing physicians in underserved areas of our state," said BA/MD Executive Director Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, UNM Health Sciences Center vice chancellor for Diversity.

This innovative approach to growing native New Mexico physicians guides a diverse group of 28 high school seniors annually from throughout the state into a specialized undergraduate curriculum at UNM. Those students who meet specific academic standards through UNM undergraduate school earn a reserved seat in UNM's nationally ranked School of Medicine. There, students intent on practicing in the state embark on a medical school curriculum and training focused on the particular healthcare needs of New Mexicans.

"The very things that attract people to New Mexico, our rural state and cultural diversity, challenge us to provide adequate medical care in the far reaches of the state," says Paul Roth, UNM chancellor for Health Sciences and School of Medicine dean. "With generous support from the state legislature, the BA/MD Program will continue to support aspiring physicians in underserved areas to pursue an exceptional education at UNM and return to their communities to practice medicine."

Bui has experienced firsthand the complexities of the health care system as an underrepresented minority growing up in Albuquerque. "As immigrants who moved to Albuquerque from Vietnam when I was eight years old, we struggled with language barriers when trying to navigate the healthcare system," Bui said. "I've known for some time that I wanted to practice medicine to help others experiencing similar challenges. New Mexico's patient population is so diverse; I believe I can really help."

UNM BA/MD Facts
• Program admitted first freshman class of 30 in 2006
• Program has accepted nearly 226 students since 2006 – 222 NM residents (99 percent); four Navajo Nation residents (1 percent)
• 127 Female Students (56 percent); 99 Male (44 percent)
• 153 Rural Students (68 percent); 73 Urban (32 percent)
• 99 Hispanic/Latino Students (43 percent); 53 Non-Hispanic White (24 percent); 32 Native American Students (14 percent); 27 Asian/Pacific Islander (12 percent); 10 African American (five percent); 5 not specified (2 percent)

For more information, visit BA/MD Program.

Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322