It's Academic

January 2015 


GME Expansion a Top Priority for Texas Medical Specialty Societies

Winning greater investment in graduate medical education (GME) programs is a 2015 legislative priority for most of the Texas family of medicine.

Standing up before their peers at the 2015 TMA Advocacy Retreat, seven state specialty societies joined TMA and the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association in calling on state lawmakers to expand the number of residency slots Texas training institutions can support. They spoke not only of the need to grow Texas’ physician workforce, but also of Texas’ inability to further train the growing number of graduates from the state’s medical schools.

Most organizations at the retreat endorsed greater GME funding; those with specific suggestions included:   

  • Texas Academy of Family Physicians,
  • Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians,
  • Texas Ophthalmological Association,
  • Texas Pediatric Society,
  • Texas Society of Anesthesiologists, 
  • Texas Society for Gastroenterology and Endoscopy, and 
  • Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians.   

GME expansion is TMA’s first legislative priority for 2015, as presented in TMA’s Healthy Vision 2020, Second Edition, the association’s advocacy plan for the remainder of the decade: “To meet future physician demands, Texas needs a stable, high-quality medical education system to produce homegrown physicians. We must provide a reasonable opportunity for Texas medical school graduates to obtain their residency training in the state without being forced to leave home. Studies confirm physicians who complete medical school and residency training in the state are three times more likely to practice here.” Read all of Healthy Vision 2020 online.

Speaking at the Advocacy Retreat’s closing luncheon, State Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), who has been a key figure in drafting the past several state budgets, said physicians could realistically expect lawmakers to continue the GME expansion trend they began in the 2013 legislative session. They will find more money for GME, Representative Zerwas said, if physicians speak out about it loudly enough.

Twitter conversations during the retreat verified his prediction, as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle weighed in for more GME spending. State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) called it “a priority for many of us in the Texas Legislature.” That brought an “Agree!” tweet from State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), who then added, “It’s a problem that so many Texas-educated docs are doing residencies and practicing medicine outside of Texas. Let’s fix it.”

Among other legislative priorities were:   

  • Stopping inappropriate expansion of the scope of practice of nonphysician practitioners,
  • Increasing state Medicaid payments and extending Medicare parity for Medicaid payments for primary care services,
  • Stopping the spread of health insurance narrow networks and protecting out-of-network physicians,
  • Regaining state funding support for several primary care preceptorship programs for medical students, and
  • Protecting Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms.   

Several other specialty societies expressed their frustration with new federal regulations that reclassify drugs containing hydrocodone combinations from Schedule III to Schedule II. They asked Texas lawmakers to investigate what steps the state can take to ease the paperwork requirements associated with the reclassification.

As in every legislative session, Texas physicians, residents, medical students, and TMA Alliance members have four unique opportunities to affect medicine’s legislative agenda. The “White Coat Invasion” has been the key to physicians’ successes in the Texas Legislature since the inception of First Tuesdays at the Capitol in 2003. This year’s First Tuesdays is set for Feb. 3, March 3, April 7, and May 5, with a special focus for residents and medical students on April 7. Register online today.

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Sign Up Now for TMA Legislative News Hotline

Want to stay fully informed of the latest happenings of the 2015 Texas Legislative Session? Then subscribe today to TMA Legislative News Hotline.

The hotline is a daily electronic newsletter for TMA members only that reports the legislature’s latest news and actions affecting organized medicine. The hotline is delivered each legislative day before noon beginning Jan. 1. A weekly recap also is available, which TMA delivers each Sunday. You can subscribe to the daily or weekly, or both.  

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TMA Offers Curriculum Toolbox to Inspire Future Physicians in Leadership, Advocacy, and Health Policy

Because of the increasing interest among medical students and residents in electives that focus on leadership, advocacy, and health policy skills, the TMA Subcommittee for Academic Physicians produced a new curriculum toolbox to guide medical schools or residency programs in developing elective courses on these topics at their institution. The subcommittee comprises representatives from each of the 11 health-related institutions in the state.

The curriculum includes structured experiences in the competencies of professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice, placing emphasis on:  

  • The importance of a physician’s attitudes and behaviors as they relate to leading others,
  • Building relationships and teams,
  • Dealing with ethical dilemmas in health care, and
  • Advocating the welfare of their patients. 

The toolbox offers reading lists and suggested activities, including participating in public health outreach projects or advocacy campaigns such as TMA’s First Tuesdays at the Capitol, as examples of educational opportunities for students and residents that cultivate planning, organizing, problem-solving, and decisionmaking skills. 

You can download the toolbox from the TMA website. For more information on the toolbox or to have your syllabi included among the references, contact Marcia Collins at TMA at, or (800) 880-1300, ext. 1375.

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Federation of State Medical Boards Offers Physicians Social Media Guidelines

If you find yourself questioning the appropriate role of texting, emailing, tweeting, blogging, or other forms of social media in medical practice, you are not alone. Here to help is Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice, developed by the Special Committee on Ethics and Professionalism at the Federation of State Medical Boards. 

The guidelines focus on: 

  • Interaction within the patient-physician relationship,
  • Parity of professional and ethical standards,
  • Appropriate use of social media and social networking, and
  • Medical board sanctions and disciplinary findings. 

Don’t be left wondering — see what experts in ethics and professionalism have to say on this timely topic. 

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Texas Retains Clout on Capitol Hill

Committee appointments in the U.S. House of Representatives for this year reveal Texas will retain three good friends of medicine who will be well-placed to influence issues such as Sustainable Growth Rate formula reform and the repeal of onerous federal regulations. 

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) will remain chair of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) will become the “ranking member,” or lead Democrat, on the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), will be the third-ranked Republican on the subcommittee. TMA has excellent relationships with all three congressmen and their staffs.

On the Senate side, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is the new majority whip, the No. 2 spot in the Senate Republican leadership. No Texan has held that position since Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, from 1951 to 1953.

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Free Ebola CME From UTHSCSA

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) is offering an online course titled, Ebola Virus Disease: What Should You Know? Update and Demonstration of Donning and Doffing of Personal Protective Equipment. Physicians can earn 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ free upon completion of the course.

The course focuses on recent Ebola preparedness updates and includes a demonstration of personal protective equipment donning and doffing. This continuing medical education activity is especially relevant to physicians and other health professionals specializing in infectious diseases, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and those involved with the management of Ebola patients. 

Learning objectives include:  

  • Recognizing the epidemiologic risk factors, 
  • Identifying the clinical signs and symptoms, 
  • Understanding the modes of transmission and means of prevention, and
  • Understanding the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment. 

Register online for this free course. If you need help logging in or have any questions, email or call (866) 601-4448. 

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2015 TMA Winter Conference Tackles Crisis and Change

The 2015 TMA Winter Conference takes place Jan. 30-31 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Austin. Physicians will have the opportunity to conduct TMA business, obtain continuing medical education credit, and network with peers. Medical students can take part in organized medicine; learn what TMA and AMA are doing to protect the profession in Congress, at the Texas Legislature, and with regulators; and mingle with student and resident peers at a mixer on Friday night.

Join your colleagues and participate in discussions on crisis management, the 2015 Texas Legislative Session, and changes in the health care landscape. 

Register and make your hotel reservations on the TMA website. 

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TMA: A Physician's Strongest Advocate

The 2015 congressional and state legislative sessions are right around the corner. TMA’s Healthy Vision 2020, Second Edition, articulates in detail what we are asking of the Texas Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and state and federal regulators. 

TMA has been a longtime advocate for academic faculty and medical schools, monitoring legislation, determining the potential impact to patients, and actively lobbying for your interests. Only with grassroots support can we make sure Texas remains a premier state in the education of future physicians, in research, and in quality patient care. 

Join or renew today. Within your department or academic institution, funds may be available to cover the cost of your membership. Please check with your department administrator or chair. 

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Have You Recruited a Physician From out of State?

TMA’s Welcome to Texas webpage can help new or returning physicians with Texas-specific issues. The page provides links doctors need to obtain a Texas license, plus contact information for relevant state and federal agencies, and links to resources such as employee salary data.

TMA developed the webpage to welcome physicians to the Texas family of medicine and help them along their career path during a time of transition. And for a limited time, physicians can choose from one of three free, Texas-specific practice guides to help them start a practice, join a practice or group, or join a managed care organization.

You can also contact the TMA Knowledge Center at or (800) 880-7955 for fast answers to questions about membership, TMA member benefits and services, and help navigating the complex laws and regulations unique to Texas medicine, and more. 

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This Month in Texas Medicine

The January issue of Texas Medicine previews the just-opened 2015 legislative session, including possible ways to provide health care coverage to the state’s working poor; examines round two of the health insurance marketplace, the state’s response to Ebola, and the Sunset Advisory Commission’s recommendation for the future of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission; and answers your questions about prescribing hydrocodone combination drugs, now classified as Schedule II. 

Check out our digital edition.

You can subscribe to RSS feeds for TMA Practice E-Tips, TMA news releases, Blogged Arteries, and Texas Medicine. More

It's Academic is for physicians in academic settings. For more information about TMA’s efforts on behalf of medical education and academic physicians, visit the TMA Council on Medical Education’s Subcommittee for Academic Physicians page and Advocacy page on the TMA website.

Please share with your colleagues who are not TMA members and ask them to join.

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    The State legislature is unable to support the existing medical schools adequately. Another institution, no matter where it is located, would put more unnecessary strain on already stretched finances. Find the money to treat the ones you have better before straining draining resources.
    William E. Powell, M.D.

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