UNM Combined BA/MD Program
Written by Deanna Gonzales, Kylee Greider, Ashtyn Megariz, & Nichole McGuire
Medical Students, Univeristy of New Mexico
UNM Combined BA/MD Program and Totah Behavioral Health
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign addressing all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. June has been designated by the CHIC as the month to bring awareness to the Combined BA/MD Program at the University of New Mexico. This program has been created to address the severe physician shortage within the state. Each year a class of 28 diverse students are assembled from high schools around the state. One special aspect of this program is the unique education created to serve the diverse population of New Mexico. Students take classes to educate them to not just look at medical and physical health of the individual, but also aspects of the individual’s environmental, educational, economical and the ways those issues can affect their health outcomes.
Part of this special education includes a service-learning based summer practicum experience. This year, four of us were chosen to spend our summer in Farmington. Throughout the month of June, we each shadowed a local physician for 8 hours a week. We were also introduced to local agencies that are helping those who may have traditionally fallen through the cracks of the healthcare system. These agencies are helping combat social determinates of health that could lead to poor health outcomes such as homelessness, hunger, early childhood education, and policy change. But most importantly, we worked closely with Totah Behavioral Health Authority, a local health intervention program. Totah is a non-profit treatment center, affiliated with PMS, in Farmington that addresses a wide range of behavioral conditions such as substance abuse. Totah takes a unique approach to their services by offering culturally relevant and clinically competent behavioral health care which incorporates Navajo traditional practices with common counseling and therapy techniques. The most fundamental principle within this program is the concept of “Ke,” which relates to clanship, meaning that we are connected to each other, to the clan, to the earth, and to peace. Totah’s integration of Native American culture aims to heal the mind, body, and soul by incorporating physical and emotional wellness services.
This has been an enlightening experience for all of us. It is one thing to read about the impact and struggles of one’s socioeconomic status, but witnessing it first-hand really has hit home. As future practitioners, we will be able to utilize this experience and more effectively provide our patients with agencies that can help them begin their journey to wellness.
For more details about the BA/MD Program, please visit the website: http://som.unm.edu/education/bamd/
University of New Mexico
Combined BA / MD Program