University of North Texas Health Science Center

05/13/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/13/2024 16:19

TCOM’s Owen Saenz selected for the prestigious ElevateMeD scholarship program

[Link]Paying it forward, sacrificing and serving has been at the core of who and what Owen Saenz is, now, it's paying him back. The rising fourth-year student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth was selected for the ElevateMeD scholarship program.

Saenz, who will receive a $10,000 scholarship, was selected for demonstrating leadership, interpersonal skills in medical school, and service to the community.

"I feel deeply honored and grateful," Saenz said. "It affirmed my dedication to serving underrepresented communities, like the ones I called home, as well as acknowledging a past that, statistically, should have prevented me from any success. The recognition was truly humbling."

Saenz, part of TCOM's Class of 2025, has served as the president of TCOM's Latino Medical Student Association and a co-director for LMSA Southwest Region. He was also recently inducted into the TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Saenz grew up in a variety of cities and spaces, including a string of homeless shelters on Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth. His mother served as an inspiration for him working in a variety of roles within the health care industry, giving him the passion to work in medicine.

[Link]Although Latinos comprise 40.2% of the Texas population, the community makes up less than only 11.3% of active physicians in Texas, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges 2021 State Workforce Data Report. According to a recent Pew Research Center, Latinos account for 7% of physicians and surgeons and 9% of all health care practitioners and technicians in the U.S.

"The data indicates that the medical field does not mirror the diversity of the population it serves," Saenz said. "Both state and national statistics highlight a noticeable discrepancy in the representation of doctors from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, failing to align with the communities they serve. Therefore, it is imperative to increase the number of physicians from underrepresented communities to promote diversity and address health care disparities effectively."

ElevateMeD is a program launched in 2020, which TCOM partnered with in January of 2024, and is committed to elevating the field of medicine by providing financial support and mentorship to future physicians.

[Link]They aim to increase the physician workforce from underrepresented populations in medicine and improve cultural competence among physicians to reduce health disparities. The scholarship program is built on five pillars: scholarship, mentorship, leadership development, financial wellness education and peer network.

"As someone who has navigated through medical school, I want Latinos to know that medicine is within reach," said Saenz. "It requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance, but it is achievable with the right support, strong familia, and focus. As the great Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez would say "¡Si Se Puede!"

Since its inception in 2020, the focus has been on creating financial assistance for bright and talented medical students from historically underrepresented backgrounds that will attract them toward a career in medicine with the cost no longer being a detraction.

Saenz will be invited to the annual Explosion of a Dream Scholars Summit in Arizona where he will receive a professional headshot, public speaking coaching, and workshops tailored to professional development.

"Attending the Summit later this year presents an invaluable opportunity to connect with fellow scholars, mentors, and leaders in the field of medicine," Saenz said. "I hope to gain insights, knowledge, and guidance that will further support my academic and professional journey, as well as continue the discussions on advancing diversity and equity in healthcare."

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