|Pictured left to right are recent UTPA graduates Alex Romero, Mia de la Garza, and Sergio Diaz, winners of the Medical Challenge Bowl at the Spring Conference of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants in February. The team defeated eight other programs from around the state, including the team from the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School, who had been the previous winner for the last four years. De la Garza is the only original team member who will compete in the national competition, which is set for May 28 in San Francisco. She will be joined by seniors Alex Andrade and Dolores Solis.|
Mia de la Garza, Alex Romero, and Sergio Diaz comprised the team that won the Medical Challenge Bowl in February at the Spring Conference of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants in Dallas
The trio defeated eight other teams, including the Physician Assistant Studies Program from the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School, who had been the previous winner for the last four years.
“I feel jubilant, and the student’s triumph gave them a lot of self confidence,” Frank Ambriz, interim program director of the Physician Assistant Studies Program, said. “I hope and I know it has given the rest of the physician assistant students the gratification that UTPA can compete with other major players.”
This win bodes well for the program because it is the only physician assistant program in the state of Texas not housed by a medical school.
“Our performance proves that the UTPA PASP faculty, despite a lack of resources and support provided by a medical school, is delivering a quality (not to mention affordable) education in medicine,” de la Garza said.
There are more than 130 physician assistant programs in the country, but only 48 teams will compete at the national competition, which is hosted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). The medical bowl utilizes a jeopardy-style round-robin format and is part of the AAPA’s 34th Annual Physician Assistant Conference, taking place May 27-June 1.
De la Garza, a graduate of the program and the only original team member competing at nationals, will be joined by Alex Andrade and Dolores Solis, both upcoming seniors.
“We expect a difficult competition, but we are confident too,” de la Garza said. “Our intention is to proudly represent UTPA.”
De la Garza said she has been studying vigorously for her Physician Assistant National Certification Exam, which is the test all physician assistants must take in order to obtain a license to practice. She said her study regimen has served twofold because preparing for the exam has also prepared her for the competition. Each team member has been studying different subjects on their own, but they are planning to review and quiz each other as a team a few days before they leave for California.
More information on AAPA may be found on their Web site, http://www.aapa.org. For more information on the Physician Assistant Studies Program at UTPA, call 956/381-2298, or access their Web site at http://www.panam.edu/dept/pasp/.