Medical Students Win TMA Foundation Grants to Help Texans

 October 15, 2019

(Left to Right): TMAF President Susan Pike, MD; I Chun-Lin (UT Southwestern); 
Nikita Dhur (Texas Tech Lubbock); Colleen O'Neill (UT Houston McGovern);
Sarah Luke (UTMB); Gretta Smith (Texas A&M University); Tucker Pope (UT Dell Medical School); Kristopher Van Huss (Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, El Paso); Rajadhar Reddy (Baylor College of Medicine); TMAF Medical Student Rep. Christian Beltran (Texas A&M University)

Texans in cities across the state will benefit from nearly $27,000 in Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) grant funding awarded to budding physicians for health-improvement projects. TMAF awarded the funds to nine TMA medical student chapters and student-run community clinics or health initiatives, to care for patients in Houston, Austin, Bryan/College Station, El Paso, Dallas, and Galveston. The funds will help students offer free health screenings in medically disadvantaged neighborhoods, vaccinate underserved people, and help others quit smoking, among other goals. The TMAF Medical Community Grants fund health improvement programs that increase people’s health care access in local communities.

“I congratulate these grant recipients for their compassion, volunteer spirit, and expertise to help improve the health of Texans in need,” said Susan Pike, MD, president of TMAF, TMA’s philanthropic arm. “The TMA Foundation is pleased to collaborate with Texas medical students who are building bridges with organizations in their community to help Texans prevent disease and injury, and learn healthy lifestyle habits.”  

This year’s grant recipients:

  • The Baylor College of Medicine TMA Medical Student Section Chapter received a grant of nearly $3,000 to care for Houston’s underserved refugee population at the BCM-Alliance Refugee Wellness Fair. Medical students, led by physicians, will care for families and individuals of all ages visiting care stations at the fair. At least 200 refugees can receive medical screening exams, blood glucose tests, and consult with medical students and medical residents on their medical histories, diet, and exercise. People without a primary care physician will be referred to a nearby Harris Health community clinic for future care. The physicians and students hope the immigrants will learn how to access health care, especially since many are uninsured.
  • The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School TMA/AMA Medical Student Section Chapter received $3,000 for the Dell Medical Students Flu Crew. This program provides free vaccinations and educates people in underserved areas of Austin about vaccine-preventable diseases like the flu and pertussis (whooping cough). The students also will vaccinate more residents than before, with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), Hepatitis A and B, HPV, and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccines. The Flu Crew also will provide shots at CD Doyle, the group’s student-run clinic for the homeless, and at future events with community partners.
  • The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine TMA Medical Student Chapter will use its $3,000 grant for the Feed My Sheep Mobile Pediatric Clinic, a volunteer-run mobile clinic that offers free medical, dental, and social services to more than 100 Bryan/College Station medically underserved and uninsured children. The mobile clinic travels to low-income areas to treat people with limited transportation. Feed My Sheep will use the grant to resupply medications, and purchase equipment for the group’s new mobile trailer. Organizers also will host monthly clinics in the coming year to focus on sports physicals and diabetes screenings.
  • Students at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso will receive $3,000 to focus on breast health and administer breast cancer screenings to underserved women in El Paso County. Medical students and physicians at the medical student-run clinic of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine will use the funds to teach patients about breast health, and offer free mammography services to women in the Agua Dulce Colonia. The area has more than 3,000 residents, with nearly half living in poverty. Most of the patients are uninsured, and few physicians are in the area to care for them, so these screenings could save lives. The students and physicians will use their mobile mammography unit to treat patients, teach the women in English and Spanish how to conduct breast self-exams, and provide additional diagnostic testing if needed.
  • The Texas Tech University Health Science Center at Lubbock will receive $3,000 for its Smoking Cessation Program at The Free Clinic. The program is a 4-week smoking cessation class for uninsured Lubbock County adults. Patients are equipped with tools and resources to stay smoke-free, such as learning to avoid their smoking triggers. Medical students led by physicians will use the grant funds to provide nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum for participants to help them quit smoking after the program ends. Patients also can see Free Clinic behavioral health counselors and physicians to determine whether more services are needed. The program launched in March 2019, and has reached 500 people so far. With the new funds, organizers hope to reach 100 people per month.  
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) McGovern Medical School will receive $3,000 for its UTHealthCares Third Annual Health Fair at UT Physicians Jensen Clinic. UTHealthCares, a student-led organization, serves the Eastex-Jensen community in Houston, where six in 10 adults earn less than 200% of the federal poverty limit. UTHealthCares will use TMAF funds to give 85 flu shots, and distribute sunscreen and bilingual healthy cookbooks to families.
  • Another UTHealth student-run program will receive $3,000 for Frontera de Salud: Improving Border Health with a Medical Student-Community Health Worker Alliance. Medical students volunteer to travel to the Rio Grande Valley to address people’s health issues there. The students work with the Cameron County Health Department to provide health screenings and raise health awareness for Brownsville and Harlingen residents. They teach nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices; treat residents with undiagnosed or poorly managed chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity; and provide follow-up care to people at health fairs, home visits, and community events. The students also direct uninsured and high-risk patients to area low-cost clinics and health services. Organizers often receive 50 medical student applications for just 12 travel spots to the Valley. They will use the grant to continue funding student-volunteer trips, and medical resources. Frontera de Salud students hope to help as many as 500 people in the next year.
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) TMA Medical Student Section Chapter will receive $3,000 for its 4th Annual HOPE Health Fair. The HOPE Health Fair gives vaccines, health screenings, and a meal to homeless and uninsured people in Galveston. This year, the students are adding counseling, education on vaccines like influenza, Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis), and Pneumovax (for pneumococcal disease), and HIV screenings. The UTMB students host the fair with Family Medicine Interest Group, Gold Humanism Honor Society, and St. Vincent’s Student Run Clinic. They believe they can reach more people by taking the health fair to the people, rather than hoping the people can find the clinics for care. This year, the students hope to serve as many as 250 patients.   
  • The UT Southwestern TMA Medical Student Section Chapter will receive $3,000 for its Smoking Cessation Program, and to provide lung cancer screenings for Dallas’ homeless population. Organizers cite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics indicating that people who smoke are 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not. Smoking also doubles or quadruples the risk of cardiovascular disease, so the students hope to improve their patients’ chances against these numbers. The homeless population is especially vulnerable to this risk as smoking prevalence is three times greater among the homeless.

They also plan to expand their current program to help at least 70 people at the Center of Hope, a local women’s shelter. Students will teach men and women about the health risks of long-term smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. They use motivational interviewing techniques and nicotine replacement therapy to help smokers who want to quit. The Smoking Cessation Program helped at least 10 homeless men at the Calvert Place shelter quit smoking last year, and some men can obtain lung cancer screenings. Students also will direct uninsured clients to potential insurance sources.

Each year, TMA medical student chapters may apply for up to $3,000 in matching funds from the TMAF Medical Student Community Leadership Grants Program. Beginning in 2018, the program has been supported by the TMAF Medical Student Scholarship and Grant Trust Fund of Dr. Roberto J. and Agniela (Annie) M. Bayardo. The TMAF board approved the grant funding during its meeting at TMA Fall Conference in September.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. The TMA Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization that raises funds to support the population health, science, and quality-of-care priority initiatives of TMA and the Family of Medicine.


Contact:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email:

 Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email:

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Last Updated On

February 03, 2020