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East Texas Baptist University partners with UT Tyler School of Medicine’s Early Assurance Program

August 16, 2023

On August 16, The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine gathered for the Early Assurance Program Signing Day in collaboration with eight local colleges and universities.

"This is a significant milestone for UT Tyler School of Medicine and our partnering colleges," UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, said. "The Pathways program reflects our commitment to recruiting local talent and promoting excellence in medical education. Through this program, we are creating a pathway for East Texas students to pursue a career in medicine."

The early assurance program, known as "Pathways to Medicine," will prepare 40 students each year from local colleges and universities for a successful career in the medical field by providing clinical exposure and developing necessary study skills for medical school. Up to 15 will be admitted into the School of Medicine.

East Texas Baptist University and seven other institutions from around the region will participate in the program.  

"The practice of medicine as the healing ministry of Christ is shown so clearly in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan," East Texas Baptist University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. "It is appropriate that ETBU share a symbol of this story with our UT Tyler partners, President Kirk A. Calhoun and Dean Brigham Willis, as they join us in equipping students whom God has called to be physicians. We pray it reminds us all of the power of education to change and save lives."

The Pathways program encompasses a 1–2-year curriculum for junior and senior years. Program activities include professional development, speakers and panel discussions, standardized test prep, volunteering, and physician shadowing. Participants undergo the same rigorous admissions process and interviews as other prospective students, and their selection is based on a holistic evaluation of their qualifications.

UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun said UT Tyler started the medical school based on two crucial concepts: to address the shortage of physicians and lack of access to healthcare in northeast Texas and to give potential medical students better opportunities in higher education.

"We have 100 percent confidence that higher education across Northeast Texas can train these young people," Calhoun said. "By establishing an early assurance program and partnering with these great institutions in our region, we feel that we can better deliver on the dual promise of serving our community by producing the right healthcare professionals and giving our young people the opportunities, they deserve."

Brigham Willis, founding dean of UT Tyler's School of Medicine, talked about how the School of Medicine is more than just training students to become doctors but becoming leaders in healthcare and keeping them in East Texas.

"What an incredible honor it is to have all of our partner universities from across East Texas here today," Willis said. "Early assurance program, to me, is foundational to our mission. Why not get the incredibly talented students at all of your universities locked into healthcare profession pathways before they leave? They can serve the communities they grew up in."

To meet the growing need for physicians and healthcare in East Texas, the Early Assurance Program will prepare students from local colleges and universities for a successful career in the medical field by providing clinical exposure and developing necessary study skills for medical school.

"With a strong emphasis on community engagement and preventive care, the Early Assurance program will encourage and support greater numbers of students interested in medicine," Associate Dean of Admissions for UT Tyler Dr. Gisele Armond Abron said. "This initiative is not only shaping the future of health care but also ensuring that our region welcomes more dedicated and competent physicians."

Jarvis Christian University, LeTourneau University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas College, Texas A&M University – Texarkana, UT Tyler, and Wiley College will also participate in the program. 

"For ETBU premedical students, the Early Assurance Program is a game changer in helping them achieve their goal of becoming a physician," Dr. Roy Darville, Associate Dean and Professor of Biology, said. "This program will provide significant support and mentoring to allow participants to interact with medical school faculty and students. Most of our ETBU premedical students would like to stay in East Texas to attend medical school and practice medicine. I am so excited that they will have this opportunity."