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Pandemic lessons: How El Paso medical school students have had to adapt

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Training to be a doctor in the middle of a pandemic. In many ways, medical students in El Paso have had the opportunity to learn a lot about their craft because of Covid-19, but it's also been a big struggle in other aspects.

All students, especially medical students have had to adapt over the last year and a half. Now that in-person learning is back, students like Melissa Renteria, an El Paso native, say it's made all the difference.

Renteria is a second year medical student with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso's Paul Foster School of Medicine.

(Melissa Renteria, an El Paso native, is a second year student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. )

"Last year, it definitely did put a strain on mental health because we were inside the entire time, then also learning specific techniques for different types of physical exams, etc.," she said.

But Renteria felt that the school did its best in helping students during a difficult time.

The pandemic also has different effects of other students, especially third and fourth year students.

Renteria said several students took a year off. Others weren't able to travel for their residency programs or complete rotations at local hospitals.

However, a school spokesperson told ABC-7 they have seen a greater interest in its programs this year. While official enrollment are not available, the school estimates more than 400 students are currently enrolled.

Despite the difficult transition, Renteria is happy to interact more with her classmates and professors. She said the pandemic has helped her passion for medicine grow stronger.

"I chose a school to practice here, I want to match into a residency program in El Paso, because I think that our area is very underserved and underrepresented... I think that our area is (in need of) physicians, any kind of physician, but I think that it kind of the way our city handled Covid-19 and the way that they gave out information, I think was very productive. It kind of made me appreciate this place a lot more," she said.

Renteria hopes to specialize in either pediatrics or oncology.

To learn more about the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, click here.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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