La Feria News

UTRGV granted candidacy for state’s first School of Podiatric Medicine

UT Health RGV Surgery and Women’s Specialty ribbon cutting. 614 Maco Dr. Harlingen UTRGV Photo by David Pike

By Karen Villarreal

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JUNE 15, 2022 – UTRGV is now the first university in Texas – and one of only 10 in the nation – ready to prepare and graduate Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

The UTRGV School of Podiatric Medicine has been granted candidacy by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME). The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program has also been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UTRGV had been granted approval for a DPM program in late 2020 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and CPME candidacy was the next step toward launching the school and the program.

The School of Podiatric Medicine will begin recruiting soon for its inaugural class of 40 students.
Podiatrists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle. Students who have completed at least 90 credit hours of undergraduate studies are eligible to apply to enter the program upon graduation. The program entails four years of medical education at the SOPM, followed by three years of hospital-based post-graduate residency training.

The application deadline for new students is July 20, 2022. Classes are scheduled for Aug. 8 at the UTRGV School of Podiatric Medicine, located in Harlingen within UT Health RGV, the clinical arm of the UTRGV School of Medicine, at 2102 Treasure Hills Blvd.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the new school expands on the university’s mission to improve access to quality healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley – where the need for podiatrists is high.

“Many people in our region who suffer from diabetes require specialty podiatric care,” Bailey said. “We train our future doctors in the UTRGV School of Medicine to address complications from diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, and now we will be able to meet this very specific healthcare need in South Texas.”

Diabetes, which can lead to foot disorders like neuropathy, infection and even amputation, is prevalent at an estimated rate of 26 percent in the Valley.

Dr. Javier Cavazos, DPM, assistant dean of Clinical Education for the new School of Podiatric Medicine, said students and faculty will serve the community through UT Health RGV, the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program, Coastal Bend Veterans Affairs, and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

“Diseases endemic to our region – like diabetes and cardiovascular disease – are a research focus for our faculty and students,” he said. “We will collaborate with the UTRGV School of Medicine and the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute (STDOI) to provide evidence-based practice and medical research to our community.”

Dr. Javier La Fontaine, DPM, MS, associate dean of Academic Affairs for the UTRGV School of Podiatric Medicine, said it is a point of pride for UTRGV to be the first of its kind in the UT System.

“We are the first School of Podiatric Medicine within a major state university system,” La Fontaine said. “The support of the UT System helps ensure that our students will succeed in becoming not only dedicated podiatric physicians, but also research scientists, public health professionals and educators.”

Gilbert Morin, director of admissions for the School of Podiatric Medicine, said the school’s tuition is among the lowest in the country, as UTRGV continues its commitment to providing access to a high-quality education at an affordable rate.

“We want to make this level of education available to students of all backgrounds,” Morin said.
Students interested in applying can do so online and email for more information.

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