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Three Wildcat Journeys Converge at the College of Medicine – Tucson

Arizona-Only Programs Bring New Opportunities for Undergrads

Ground-breaking Bachelor of Science programs in Medicine, Physiology and Medical Sciences, and Emergency Medical Services offer undergraduates preparing for medical careers new options and exciting opportunities.

Meet Alex Singh Parmar

Major: Bachelor of Science in Medicine

Graduation: Summer 2023

As a child, Alex Singh Parmar took on the role of primary caregiver for his father, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis. Accompanying him to medical appointments, Alex saw the language and cultural barriers between his father – who immigrated from India – and medical personnel. These obstacles delayed his father's diagnosis and exposed systemic issues that, 25 years later, Alex is determined to help solve as a Medicine major.

An opportunity & inspiration

Today, Alex is participating in FRONTERA, a summer internship program that provides Wildcats the opportunity to see, first-hand, the public health disparities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Alex, who learned how to speak Spanish as a teenager, served as a medical interpreter and scribe at a COVID vaccination center, bridging gaps between patients, providers, and vital services. He explains how the experience inspired him, All that exposure not only pushed me toward wanting to be a provider, but I want to be a provider who can spark further change down the line.” In addition to FRONTERA, Alex worked (again as an interpreter) at the college’s Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) clinics in Tucson and Mexico.  

B.S. in Medicine: Foundations with flexibility

Alex is the very first Wildcat to graduate from Arizona with an undergraduate degree in Medicine. He characterizes the program by saying, “You have all these designated classes that build your foundational knowledge.” And adds, “Through emphasis areas outside the core classes, it does such a good job introducing anyone to what the world of medicine has to offer and the types of things they can do with it.”

What are Alex’s goals after graduation?

Alex intends to attend medical school and eventually become a mentor to the next generation of students. “That’s my goal, to take what I learn here, expand the roles that I’ve been working on as an undergraduate through medical school as a medical student, and then hopefully one day as a provider being able to give back to other undergraduates and medical students.”

Read more about Alex and the Bachelor of Science in Medicine program. 

Read what others are saying about the COM-T Bachelor of Science in Medicine program.

Meet Kyle Cook

Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in Physiology and Medical Sciences (Physiology Major) 

Minor: Spanish

Graduation: Spring 2023 

Matriculated into Medical School: Summer 2023

Kyle Cook had surgeries on his hand twice, once in the second grade and again in high school.  Both times he was treated by the same physician, who explained the procedure and described the structure of Kyle’s hand in fascinating detail. According to Kyle, he saw a “more personal and human side of medicine” in those encounters. They stuck with him, sparking his interest in both physiology and patient care.

Collecting experiences

“Coming into college, I had a general curiosity in the health sciences…I thought it was my calling because I had some really cool personal experiences with health care.”

While still in high school, Kyle took part in medical mission work supported by his church. There, he was given the opportunity to shadow practitioners and watch operating room procedures. “I loved being in the OR, the intensity of it. I like how everyone’s a team; everyone must work together. It’s kind of like a dance, everyone playing at the same time.” Since becoming a Wildcat, Kyle went on a second mission, this time to Ecuador. Kyle witnessed doctors, specialists, and nurses working closely together to provide excellent care and support to their patients. This experience once again showed Kyle the compassionate and human side of medicine. Kyle also served as president of the Physiology Club, a researcher at the Sarver Heart Center, and a PATH mentor as an honors student at the W. A. Franke Honors College.

B.S. in Health Sciences in Physiology and Medical Sciences: A program and a pathway

The College of Medicine – Tucson’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in Physiology and Medical Sciences programs offer exceptional undergraduate experiential learning opportunities and a curriculum that can help students who choose to go to medical school. According to Kyle, the reasons he chose Arizona included “a great health sciences department connected to the university, and all the opportunities here aligned with the things I want to do, like research, education, volunteering, service.” The “physio” program allowed Kyle to take the courses he was most interested in, like anatomy and physiology. “My emphasis of study, my major, was a lot more appealing, for example, than what I would have been doing at ASU.”

What’s next for Kyle?

Kyle was accepted into the Honors Early Assurance Program (HEAP) and gained early admission to the college's medical school while still a junior. Since many of the physician practitioners who teach at the graduate level enjoy teaching in the B.S. program as well, Kyle can look forward to seeing some friendly and familiar faces. He matriculated into medical school in July, joining the Class of 2027.

Read more about Kyle and the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in Physiology and Medical Sciences.

Learn more about the HEAP program.

Meet Xochitl Baca-Cruz

Major: Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Graduation: Spring 2023

After a frustrating first attempt at college, followed by a 12-year career in paramedicine, Xochitl Baca-Cruz was ready to reboot her degree journey. For her, the new College of Medicine’s B.S. in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) proved to be the right program at just the right time.

Degree interrupted

Xochitl describes her first attempt at a degree as a struggle, “I came straight to Arizona, and I should have done the Pima route. I thought I was ready for university life. I did two years of it. And I just was struggling hardcore with the studying aspect of it, reaching out for help, tutoring, and resources in general.” “I left on bad terms. I stopped going to classes, and so my GPA was super low – I didn't know it could get that low. And so, I started from the bottom when I came back.”

B.S. in Emergency Medical Services: Lots of possibilities, zero compromise.

The EMS program is available online for certified paramedics who work full-time, have unpredictable schedules, or may have had trouble in college after graduating from high school. This describes Xochitl to a tee: The majority of the classes were online, which was helpful because I worked 24-hour shifts. I didn’t have to attend in-person classes and worry about missing work or asking other coworkers to cover my shift.” Plus, Xochitl adds, “This degree is different due to the fact that the majority of the instructors are practicing physicians at Banner-University Medicine, and it gives the students opportunities to explore other avenues within the medical field.”

Where will Xochitl go from here?

Xochitl left the fire service in the spring and now works part-time on the transplant team at Banner Health. After finishing her degree, her plan is to become a physician assistant and explore a wider range of career opportunities; “I can go into surgery, family practice, private practice, or possibly work with a medical examiner.”

Read more about Xochitl and the Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services.

Our undergraduates are doers with access to faculty, resources, and ground-breaking programs only a top-ranked research institution like Arizona can offer. Put your passion for healing and helping into practice. Apply to the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona – Tucson—become a Wildcat.

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