Hop for Health Benefits TTUHSC at El Paso House Staff Association Emergency Fund

Resident physicians at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) at El Paso are organizing a 5K run and one-mile walk with an Easter Egg Hunt for kids age nine and under.  The second annual event, Hop for Health, will take place Saturday, April 19 at Ascarate Park at 8:30 a.m.

The race is being organized by the TTUHSC House Staff Association (HSA) representing all resident doctors completing their specialty training on the TTUHSC/UMC El Paso campus.  “Many of our residents volunteer their time for community health fairs and at free clinics around town. We wanted to do something to show the El Paso community that we love to see our community active and enjoying physical activity,” Sandra Vexler, M.D., president of the HSA said.

“The idea behind the race is to create an emergency fund for our young doctors who may not have a support system in El Paso, or even in the U.S.,” Dr. Vexler said. “Unfortunately things happen. If a family member of one of our residents suddenly falls ill, and the resident has to travel in the next couple of days, it is a huge burden on that resident to afford that unplanned plane ticket as well as other local necessities.”

Dr. Vexler explained that after medical students complete medical school and receive the medical degree, there is still further training to complete in the form of  residency training. Residencies last anywhere from three to six years and provide doctors the training necessary to serve as pediatricians, family medicine doctors or surgeons, for example. Doctors can then go into sub-specialties with fellowship training allowing them to become, for example, cardiologists or child and adolescent psychiatrists.

El Paso has been lucky to attract talented doctors from over the world to do their residencies at the Texas Tech Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, she said.  The goal is to build a sense of community among the residents and a relationship with the residents and the El Paso community,  such that they feel welcome and stay here after training to practice medicine.

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, which is charged with training doctors for El Paso and West Texas, has nine residencies and six fellowships. Most people do not know that the training salary is much smaller than the salary of a practicing independent doctor and provides a tight budget for young doctors and their families. The average resident salary is not enough to cover the student debt these trainees shoulder, often totaling over $200,000.

In the past, faculty doctors from the various TTUHSC programs have reached into their own pockets in times of crisis to help their residents.

“Our aim is to get involved in our community, show our patients that we practice what we preach by running in the race, and trying to get other healthcare providers and patients involved,” Dr. Vexler said. She emphasized that Hop for Health is not just about the race, it’s also a great family activity with refreshments, the egg hunt, and comraderie with employees, students, residents and their families.

For more information, or to register for the race, go to  http://www.raceadventuresunlimited.com/04-19-2014/2nd-Annual-Hop-For-Health/814.

To qualify for a TTUHSC department group code, please contact Dr. Vexler at sandra.vexler@ttuhsc.edu.