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NMSU’s first Osteopathic Medicine Pathway Program graduate set to attend Burrell College in fall

New Mexico State University has several educational outreach programs dedicated to serving students pursuing degrees in health sciences. Three years ago, the university introduced the Osteopathic Medicine Pathway Program.


Man poses for outdoor portrait
New Mexico State University Osteopathic Medicine Pathway Program’s first graduate, Muhammad Sufyan, will attend the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in fall 2019. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

Its purpose is to train the next generation of osteopathic physicians with the goal that they will attend the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, then stay and practice in New Mexico and the surrounding communities. On May 11, the first student from OMPP, Muhammad Sufyan, received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Sufyan immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with family before starting fifth grade. He graduated from Arrowhead Park Early College High School.

Sufyan has always known that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to aid people. Coming from a family of doctors, medicine eventually became the pathway for him to carry out his aspirations.

“Originally it wasn’t, but during high school, I started volunteering and I also got into the National Honor Society, so I was watching from there,” he said. “I enjoyed helping people, so I started looking into it.”

The summer after high school, Sufyan shadowed several local doctors including Edward Hernandez, who is an ophthalmologist at Eyes of the Southwest. He had the opportunity to watch him perform cataract surgery with a state-of-the-art bladeless laser.

Sufyan began pursuing his bachelor’s degree through OMPP in fall 2016. During his time in the program, he experienced presentations from professors at BCOM, attended demonstrations and participated in NMSU’s pre-med club. He had the opportunity to tour BCOM and explore potential fields of study.

One of his favorite experiences was D.O. for a day, a BCOM shadowing program. This opportunity allowed him not only a chance to revisit the school, but to experience classes, presentations and a day in the life of a medical school student.

“Muhammad has been very serious about his goals from the first day. His dedication shows in his grades, he not only has passed his courses but he’s excelled at them,” said Victoria Bañuelos, NMSU adviser and director of OMPP. “He, like any dedicated student, spent a good amount of time studying and relearning his materials in order to graduate with such a high GPA.”

Graduating a year early with a 3.9 GPA and being the first student to successfully complete OMPP has earned Sufyan high praises from professors, advisers and colleagues, even though he is humble about the accomplishment.

“Being the first person, it feels the same, I wouldn’t say special,” Sufyan said. “I still had to go through all the steps and I’m starting medical school. It feels exciting.”

Joining his brother, Muhammad Farhan, at BCOM, Sufyan is looking forward to participating in multiple clubs at BCOM. One will allow him the opportunity to travel to the Texas-Mexico border to volunteer and provide medical relief for immigrants coming into the U.S.

“Because it is an underserved community, they always need help,” said Sufyan.

Once he completes his course work at BCOM, his residency and becomes a physician, Sufyan will be assigned to perform clinical services in an underserved New Mexico community for four years. Afterwards, he says that he would like to work for Doctors Without Borders.

“I’m not sure what field I want to go into, maybe ophthalmology, neurology or family medicine,” he said. “The doctors have told me to keep my mind open and that during my rotations I will see everything.”