The online magazine of the University of Texas System
In 2001, the Texas Legislature decided to focus on the chronic shortage of doctors to serve the people of Texas by passing legislation to establish the Joint Admission Medical Program, or JAMP. Designed to assist economically disadvantaged students in preparing for and succeeding in medical school, JAMP has become a resounding success and a national model for helping qualified students achieve the dream of becoming a doctor.
In 2003, the first group of JAMP students entered the program. Housed at The University of Texas System, JAMP is a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board partnership between sixty-five public and private four-year undergraduate institutions and Texas' eight medical schools. One of JAMPs' goals is to see enrollment at these schools reflect the growing diversity of our population and, most importantly, make medical school accessible for highly qualified, economically disadvantaged students.
"JAMP reaches exceptional students who might never have had an opportunity to go to medical school," says W. Budge Mabry, director of the Joint Admission Medical Program at the UT System. "And, it's reaching them in all corners of the state."
As a pipeline to medical school for economically disadvantaged students, JAMP helps to remove obstacles that might otherwise block a gifted student's path, whether it’s a lack of access, funding, encouragement or a combination thereof. In a sense, JAMP is a way for Texas' eight medical schools to reach into the state's 31 public and 34 private undergraduate institutions of higher learning and lend a hand to students with passion, ability and financial need. To begin the program, a student must demonstrate financial need, be a Texas resident and be eligible for a federal Pell Grant. In addition, JAMP administrators consider factors such as family background, whether or not a student is the first in the family to enter college, geographical location of hometown, English as second language and the student’s socio-economic status during formative years.
Once accepted, successful completion of the program guarantees admission to one of Texas' eight medical schools. But, it's hardly a golden ticket — JAMPers need to already have maintained at least a 3.25 GPA during their freshman year of college and, as a senior in high school, scored at least the mean SAT or ACT score for the state of Texas which, in 2008, was 993 and 20.7, respectively. Once enrolled in the program, undergraduate JAMPers need to keep up with a rigorous curriculum and with rigorous extracurricular activities designed to prepare them for the life of a medical student, including two summer internships that offer everything from an embryology course to classes designed to improve each participant's application and interview skills.
"JAMP not only helped me get into medical school, it also prepared me for medical school," explains JAMP medical student Lisette Gomez. "Being part of this program helped me gain a lot of opportunities which reinforced my excitement about medical school and helped me to build up for my application. Through the summer internships I learned a lot about managing my time in preparation for medical school."
Though JAMP does provide financial support through limited scholarships for both the undergraduate and medical school student, it is not the main source of the program's support. In fact, of the 170 JAMPers who have completed surveys to date, 70 percent rated internships as the greatest benefit of the program, second only to the guarantee of admission into medical school.
"The summer internships were the most beneficial part of being involved with JAMP," says JAMP medical student Darvy Mann. "The time spent at the medical centers taught me that I would actually be able to cope with the rigors of medical school. Another great aspect was the networking with medical schools and other students. Getting to know others and hearing their stories was very humbling. You quickly realize there is someone with a much harder row to hoe than you."
The majority of students would agree that JAMP's greatest strength is the community it creates for its participants. JAMPers are never alone in their endeavors; like all undergraduates, JAMP students have access to advising, mentoring and tutoring programs offered by the faculty and staff of their prospective schools. In addition, each participating undergraduate school is supplied with a JAMP Faculty Director who meets with each student on a monthly basis. And, the support doesn't end once medical school begins — participants continue to meet monthly with a JAMP Council representative and are introduced to fellow JAMPers who can help them learn the ropes of medical school. JAMP medical students are also encouraged to participate in JAMP activities throughout the state, offering insight to potential students about what lies ahead. Of the 170 survey participants, 92 percent reported they intended to practice in medically underserved areas of Texas once they received their medical license.
Now in its sixth year, JAMP has already proved to be a success. The past five years have shown 913 applicants, with 384 students enrolled. In the years 2003–2005 alone, 219 students were accepted into the program, and of those 121 successfully matriculated into medical schools.
"Through the JAMP program we can ensure the best and brightest students across the state have opportunities to pursue careers in medicine, teaching or related health professions." says UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Kenneth I. Shine. "Our goal, after all, is to provide Texas residents with exceptional healthcare today and in the future. JAMP can help us tremendously in this regard."
— Diana Welch
In January, The University of Texas System launched www.texasjamp.org to ensure prospective students have easy access to the information they need to make their dreams of medical school a reality. With a wealth of resources and quick links, students and parents can learn about eligibility requirements, find contact information for participating schools, discover what it takes to become a doctor, and see current JAMPers in action.
But that’s not all — the newly launched site also helps JAMP faculty and officials find everything they need to help JAMP students move seamlessly through the program.
Since 2001, JAMP has been helping Texas students become tomorrow’s medical professionals by providing:
Visit www.texasjamp.org for more information.
JAMP students receive hands-on experience through summer internships.
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