Texas has a shortage of physicians, both primary care physicians and specialists. The state currently ranks 42nd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in physician-to-population ratio for patient care. The shortage is now evident in both rural and urban areas of the state. Since 2004, Texas has more than 21,000 new physicians. However, we still don’t have enough physicians to keep up with the state’s robust population growth.
Texas medical schools are doing their part to expand medical student enrollments. However, graduate medical education (GME) programs are not growing in the same fashion. As a result, many of our newest physicians will move to other states. GME is a necessary part of a physician’s preparation for medical practice. Physicians who complete both medical school and GME in Texas are three times more likely to remain in the state to practice.
Texas’ medical schools and teaching hospitals have limited funding available to expand GME. The shortage of GME slots virtually guarantees some medical students will be forced to leave the state upon graduation. Those leaving likely will not return to Texas. They will take with them more than $200,000 of state investment in their medical school education.
Current state GME formula funding represents less than one half of estimated faculty costs for GME in Texas. To keep our medical students in Texas after graduation, we must create enough new GME slots to reach the state’s target of 110 percent GME entry-level positions in relation to medical school graduates. This is necessary to keep up with the growing number of medical school graduates and accommodate students from other states who want to train in Texas.
Medicine’s 2011 Agenda
- Produce more homegrown physicians through adequate state formula funding of medical school expansions and GME slots.
- Reinvest state funds in Medicaid GME and restore the state’s ability to draw down additional federal matching dollars.
- Texas needs more GME slots to train the number of physicians required to care for our rapidly growing population and reverse our overdependence on other states and countries.
- The lack of adequate GME funding jeopardizes Texas’ economic future.
- It is not good fiscal policy to make a state commitment of $200,000 for each Texas medical student over four years, and then force graduates to leave the state for GME. Those new physicians very likely will never return to Texas.