Nov. 20, 2013
Texas physicians and higher education leaders are
taking steps to improve the Lone Star State’s doctor shortage.
The Texas Medical Association (TMA), Texas
Hospital Association and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) recently
hosted a forum to educate non-teaching hospitals about serving as new places
for young doctors to do their residency training. But they have to act quickly:
Nov. 15 was the last day for hospitals and schools to apply for a planning grant
to study the feasibility of housing new first-year medical residency programs.
After graduating from medical school, doctors need to do their specialty training,
known as a residency or graduate medical education (GME). But those residents need places to train, physicians say,
or many leave Texas to do so. “If we don’t increase [GME] training slots,
physician shortages will worsen,” said Susan Cox, MD, regional dean for The University
of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Austin. “And Texas already has a
physician shortage.” Texas currently ranks 43rd in a national ranking of
doctors to population. The state also does not have enough residency spots to
accommodate all of its medical school graduates.
In 2013, lawmakers for the first time, authorized
nearly $2 million in planning grant money to encourage hospitals to become
teaching grounds for new first-year medical residency positions. “We’ve been
talking about this problem for years and now we’re excited about the
opportunity to do something about it,” David Coultas, MD, a member of TMA’s
Council on Medical Education told Texas Medicine magazine in its November issue. TMA's Council on
Medical Education organized the forum of state and national experts to educate the
hospitals that are new to the concept and likely need academic partners to start
The legislative investment marks progress toward
addressing the bottleneck Texas faces in physician training as medical school
enrollments outpace the number of entry-level residency training slots
available. A 2012
report by THECB estimated that at least 63 Texas medical school graduates
would not find an entry-level residency slot in Texas in 2014. That number
jumps to 180 graduates in 2016.
In addition to cultivating future physicians, a
residency program brings other benefits, say TMA physicians. It can save on
recruitment and placement costs, expand health care access, and keep doctors
that patients are familiar with in the community.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation,
representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is
located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the
state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
Contact: Pam Udall
cell: (512) 413-6807
Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
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