Midland College, Midland Health, the University of North Texas (UNT) and the UNT Health
Science Center have been doing something about the doctor scarcity in West Texas by
“growing our own” doctors through the Primary Care Pathway (PCP) Program. During the
accelerated medical program, students spend two years at Midland College, one year
at UNT Denton, and four years studying at UNT Health Science Center’s Texas College
of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) and performing clinical interns with Midland Health.
Micah Bigby has completed his two years at Midland College. He will begin his coursework
at UNT Denton in the fall and has already been accepted into medical school at TCOM.
His family has long Midland roots; they all worked in the oil business, so this career
path is uncharted territory.
“I grew up hearing stories about steam powered oil derricks,” remembered Bigby. “When
I was 16 years old I fell in love with manual labor. I became a machinist and worked
in the oilfield for 10 years, but was laid off. I had several job offers, but none
A recent family medical crisis sparked his interest in healthcare.
“My wife’s stepdad needed a kidney, and I donated it to him,” said Bigby. “Making
a difference in his health made me want to go into nursing, but soon after starting
at Midland College I was recruited for the PCP Program.”
Funding for school was going to be difficult.
“When I decided to go back to school, I looked at my savings and thought ‘Nursing
programs are two years, and then I will be working again - I have enough savings,’”
thought Bigby. “I did not have the financial plan to pay for seven years of school,
but Midland College came through with scholarships.”
During his time at Midland College, Bigby received scholarships from the PCP Program.
Next year he will be the recipient of the Slough Scholarship and the Fasken Scholarship,
as well as a generous private scholarship from Mr. and Mrs. Allen McGuire.
“I was blown away by the resources at Midland College,” explained Bigby. “Every person
I meet wants to invest in my life and do good things for me and my family. I cannot
wait to come back to Midland as a doctor and do more investing in the community. After
what so many people have done for me, I want to pay it forward.”
Everyday Micah says he runs through the same cycle of emotions. He reflected:
“At some point I am scared and I think, ‘This is too much information.’ Then I question
myself, ‘I signed up for five more years of school and at least four more years of
residency. What am I doing? What am I dragging my family through?’ But then I think
about those who have invested in me, and I know wherever I fall short someone will
help me figure out how to close the gap and grow in the way I need to for the next
challenge. I have felt every emotion I can put into words since getting my medical
school acceptance letter, and I do not think it is going to change. I think something
this big should be this scary.”
“Micah came to the PCP Program filled with self-doubts and second guesses about everything
from his age, his long-absence from the classroom, time management and funding,” said
Ann Smith, PCP Coordinator for UNT Health Science Center TCOM. “But he has an insatiable
hunger for knowledge and skills allowing him to serve others. He is the embodiment
of the program.”
“It is a strange, expensive, complicated, competitive thing to get into medical school,”
said Bigby. “You need to be smart, hardworking and insanely lucky. Just by being a
Midlander with access to this program, students already have the lucky part down.
It is amazing what Midland College and this program have done for my life. If you
think you want to go into medicine, you need to go through it this way.”