Native American Enrollment Doubles at UNM SOM

Aggressive Recruiting, Support Programs for Underserved Areas Finding Success

Twice as many Native Americans were accepted into UNM’s School of Medicine (SOM) in 2009 than in any previous class. "We have nine Native American students prepared to matriculate into the School of Medicine this summer," reports David Bear, Ph.D., SOM assistant dean for admissions. "That’s more than double the number for any other year, and exceeds all UNM SOM Native American enrollment in the previous four years." Although most are from the Southwest, including the Navajo Nation and Santa Domingo Pueblo, there also are students who are Lakota and Choctaw.

Five of the nine accepted students graduated from New Mexico high schools; three attended UNM as undergraduates; and two have accepted full School of Medicine tuition scholarships. More than half of the new SOM students had received offers from other medical schools. Over the past four years, the SOM has aggressively developed programs to attract minority students from medically underserved areas of New Mexico. Students in rural areas are more likely to return and practice medicine in their communities, thus creating new points of health care access where most needed in the state. Special UNM scholarships for students in underserved areas, programs to prepare for and elevate MCAT scores, and overall support for academic success were cited as reasons for this year’s increase in Native American enrollment.

"Our recruiting of underserved-area minority students through culturally sensitive outreach and strong academic support appears to be succeeding," Bear adds. "Under (SOM Dean) Dr. Paul Roth’s vision, and the vital work of Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, vice president for Diversity, and Dr. Gayle Dine’ Chacon, vice president for Native American Health, we are better able to recruit and develop students who historically might not have had access to advanced mathematics or sophisticated academic laboratories in their student careers."

For more information on SOM admissions and special programs, please visit

Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322

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