It's Academic

November 2015 


   Deadline Approaching for $49.5 Million in State Residency Expansion Grants

The application deadline for $49.5 million in state grant dollars for new graduate medical education (GME) positions or programs is Nov. 19. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) on Oct. 21 released the Request for Applications (RFA) for these grants. These monies were appropriated for programs created or modified by Senate Bill 18, the omnibus GME bill Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) authored and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), sponsored in the 2015 legislative session.

According to the RFA, applications from GME programs and sponsoring institutions will accomplish one or more of these functions:  

  • Maintain new first-year residency positions created during the 2014-15 biennium under unfilled position grants, grants for new and expanded programs, and/or the resident physician expansion program;
  • Increase and fill the number of accreditor-approved first-year residency positions in existing programs; and/or
  • Establish new GME programs with accreditor-approved first-year residency positions that will be filled during the grant period.  

The agency identified these funding priorities for this grant cycle:   

  • Continued support for GME positions that received grants in the prior biennium;
  • A total of $6 million per year for grants to new programs or additional first-year slots in primary care, defined as family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology, over the 2016-17 state biennium; and
  • Grants to new programs or new first-year slots in psychiatry.   

Grant award announcements are expected in January 2016. More information is available from THECB.       

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 UTRGV Medical School Receives Initial LCME Accreditation

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine is now recruiting its inaugural class of students, after receiving preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The designation allows the UTRGV School of Medicine to function as a medical school and implement its academic programs and curriculum.

Scheduled to open in fall 2016, the UTRGV School of Medicine plans to enroll 50 students into its charter class. “We are very pleased by the LCME’s review of our medical school,” said Francisco Fernandez, MD, inaugural dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for Medical Affairs.

The LCME accreditation is a peer-review process of quality assurance that determines whether a U.S. or Canadian medical school program meets established standards in medical education. The first step in the process is the three-stage preliminary accreditation to recruit and matriculate students. “We’ve only just begun, but it is a great start,” Dr. Fernandez said.

In preparing to obtain accreditation, representatives from each of UTRGV’s campuses, The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSC-San Antonio), and The University of Texas School of Public Health-Brownsville were recruited to serve on committees in five dedicated areas — institutional setting, educational programs, educational resources, medical students, and faculty. Each committee worked with content experts to address questions and prepare the school’s self-study database.

Dr. Fernandez said the representatives were terrific partners in this effort and deserve much of the credit for the application. The UTRGV School of Medicine was specifically commended at the time of the site survey for the quality of the self-study and curriculum.

Obtaining preliminary accreditation is the latest step in the development of the UTRGV School of Medicine. The Texas Legislature in 2009 authorized The University of Texas System to establish the medical school. In April, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved an MD degree for the school. That affords students in the Rio Grande Valley an opportunity to pursue a career in medicine that has never before been possible. From 2002 through 2016, 24 third- and fourth-year medical students from UTHSC-San Antonio chose to complete their last two years of medical school at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center. That program has been replaced by the new medical school. 

Accreditation is pending from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern states, including Texas.

The UTRGV MD program will expose medical students to clinical experiences and service learning opportunities. Students and faculty also will have the opportunity to collaborate in interprofessional team care and research in diabetes, behavioral sciences, neurosciences, infectious diseases, and population and community health. 

Facilities housing the UTRGV School of Medicine include the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen and the UTRGV Smart Hospital, a 15,000-square-foot simulation teaching hospital, also in Harlingen. In addition, construction is under way in Edinburg on a $54 million medical school building. 

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Texas Legislature Authorizes Higher Education Tuition Revenue Bonds

For the first time since 2006, the Texas Legislature this year granted the authority for tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) to a large number of higher education institutions. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reports that TRBs generally provide funds for higher education institutions to buy, construct, or renovate property.  

The Texas Legislature appropriates general revenue funds to reimburse higher education institutions for the tuition used to pay for the debt service on the bonds. House Bill 100, authored by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton) and sponsored by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, authorized $3.1 billion in TRBs. THECB received $240 million from the Texas Legislature for payment of the annual debt service on these bonds in fiscal year 2017. THECB’s board approved the allocation methodology for these funds at a meeting on Oct. 22.  

Of the $3.1 billion in TRBs, a total of $695.35 million will fund academic health centers and a biocontainment facility at Texas A&M University.  

TRBs authorized by HB 100, by university or academic health center:  

Texas A&M University
Biocontainment Research Facility: $75 million 

Texas A&M University Health Science Center
Multidisciplinary Research and Education Facility in Bryan: $72 million 

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Amarillo
Panhandle Clinical/Hospital Simulation: $5.715 million

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso
Medical Science Building II: $75.52 million 

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Lubbock
Education, research, and technology facilities: $60.264 million 

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Permian Basin Academic facility: $14.256 million 

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Renovation and modernization of educational and research facilities: $80 million 

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Facility renewal and renovation: $80 million 

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
Renovation and modernization of educational and research facilities: $14.8 million 

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building: $70 million 

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Health Education Center: $67.8 million 

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Construction and renovation of a vivarium and academic and lab facilities: $80 million 

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Primary Care Preceptorship Program is Back

Attention physicians in family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics: Love what you do and want to show medical students why your primary care specialty is so, well, special? Thanks to medicine’s hard work during this year’s legislative session, lawmakers reinstated funding for the Texas Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship program since all appropriations for the program were eliminated in 2011. 

The $3 million, two-year appropriation brings back a program that introduces students to real-life primary care — and hopefully encourages them to choose those specialties. Students typically participate during the summer between their first and second year of medical school. By working in practicing physicians’ offices, they experience the daily life and work of primary care physicians. Watch for word from your specialty society on how you can participate. 

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Deadlines Near: 2015 Application Cycle for TMA Award for Academic Excellence 

TMA knows the difference a good educator makes in the life of a physician. The association is asking for your help in recognizing physicians who excel in teaching. Consider applying for TMA’s award program or nominating a leader or colleague. 

The program is scaled across four levels to provide recognition throughout your career, starting with the Bronze level and culminating with the Platinum level. The Platinum Award winner is selected each year from among the Gold recipients and receives a $5,000 cash award. The TMA Foundation generously provides award monies. 

On TMA’s website, you will find everything you need, from a description of the eligibility criteria for each award level, to the forms you can use to apply or nominate a leader or colleague. TMA will invite qualified nominees to apply for an award. 

Help us recognize physicians who make a difference in the lives of other physicians and who prepare our next generation of doctors.  

Important deadlines: If you are applying yourself, the 2015 application cycle runs from Sept. 1 through Dec. 14, 2015. If you are nominating someone else for this cycle, the deadline is Nov. 20. TMA accepts nominations year-round, but nominees are bound by the annual application cycle deadlines.  

If you have questions, call the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955, 8:15 am-5:15 pm CT, and ask for the Medical Education Department, or send an email to

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 Submit an Abstract for the 2016 Quality Poster Session

The TMA Council on Health Care Quality and TMF Health Quality Institute announce the fourth annual TMA Quality Poster Session to be held April 30 during TexMed 2016 at the Hilton Anatole Dallas.   

The TMA Quality Poster Session is a platform for physicians and medical students to share their breakthroughs and best practices for better patient care, especially in one or more of the six aims of quality care: that it be safe, timely, effective, equitable, efficient, and patient-centered.

The TMA Quality Poster Session offers physicians a chance to gain exposure, network with Texas physicians, and have their work published. Here are just a few of the many reasons for you, your faculty, your students, and your residents to participate:  

  • Present your poster to physicians from across Texas during a continuing medical education event at TexMed 2016. 
  • Your abstract will appear on the Texas Medical Association website, which draws more than 75,000 visitors each month. 
  • The top-three winners in each category receive a cash award.     

Abstract submissions are due no later than March 25, 2016. All accepted poster exhibitors will receive a travel stipend.   

Please tell colleagues and those you teach about this event so they can take advantage of this enriching opportunity. For more information, poster parameters, and submission categories, or to see last year’s abstracts, visit the TMA website.

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 Loan Repayment Available to Physicians; Apply by Nov. 30

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is accepting applications from primary care physicians and psychiatrists for the state’s Physician Education Loan Repayment Program. The program will cover up to $160,000 in loan repayment for physicians who commit to a practice in an underserved community for four years. More information is available on the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program website. Applications for this award cycle are due to the board’s offices by Nov. 30, 2015. Help spread the word among residents who have completed training and who may benefit from loan repayment.   

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Barbara Stoll, MD, Named New Dean of UTHealth Med School

After a long national search, Barbara Stoll, MD, is the new dean of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (UTHealth) and the first woman to hold that post. The Yale-educated pediatrician comes to Texas from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, where she chaired the Department of Pediatrics and served as chief executive officer of Emory-Children’s Center.  

“I feel confident that Dr. Stoll is the ideal person to lead this school to new heights as it continues to grow and prosper with outstanding students, faculty, and staff,” UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, said. 

Dr. Stoll trained in pediatrics at Babies Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and completed a neonatology fellowship at Emory. After her fellowship, she worked in Bangladesh as a scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research and at the University of Goteborg in Sweden.  

“One of the reasons I took this job is because I think women need to step forward when offered senior leadership roles,” Dr. Stoll told the Houston Chronicle. “I love the Chinese expression, ‘Women hold up half the sky.’ ” 

UTHealth reported the following background for Dr. Stoll: 

In 1986, Stoll joined the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. To expand her international efforts, she spent a year’s sabbatical at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, raising awareness of the importance of neonatal morbidity and mortality in developing countries and developing guidelines for the care of newborns in resource-poor settings. 

She has authored more than 290 papers and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1991. Dr. Stoll’s research interests include neonatal clinical trials and the epidemiology of, diagnosis, and treatment of neonatal infectious diseases. She has spent more than two decades studying the causes of morbidity and mortality among preterm and low birthweight infants, especially infectious diseases. 

She has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, Save the Children, United States Agency for International Development, March of Dimes, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2004, she chaired an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee to examine ways to improve birth outcomes in the developing world. 

Dr. Stoll is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a member of the AAP Section on Perinatal Pediatrics. She was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research in 1986, and to the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Pediatric Society in 1998. She was elected to IOM in 2009 and served as president of the American Pediatric Society. 

She is married to Roger I. Glass, MD, director of the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health and associate director for international research at NIH. She has three children, Nina, Michael, and Andy Glass.

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2015 AMA Interim Meeting: Proposed Medical Education, Public Health Policies

The American Medical Association House of Delegates will consider potential new policy at its Interim Meeting Nov. 14-17 in Atlanta. Reference Committee K will consider business items related to medical education, science, and public health advocacy. This includes these reports from the AMA Council on Medical Education: 

No. 1: Sources of Funding for GME
The council reaffirms its support for continued and expanded contributions by all payers for health care to fund both the direct and indirect costs of graduate medical education. 

TMA also has policy in support of an all-payer pool for GME. The 2015 Texas Legislature established the state’s first-ever permanent fund for GME. TMA’s Council on Medical Education is evaluating potential sources of financial support for the fund.  

No. 2: Reconciliation of AMA’s Policies on MOC and MOL
For several years, AMA has regularly adopted new maintenance of certification (MOC) and maintenance of licensure (MOL) policies. The second report prepared by the AMA Council on Medical Education makes an effort to organize and streamline these policies.  

The AMA Council on Science and Public Health also filed reports on topics such as nonmedical exemptions to immunization and national drug shortages. Submitted resolutions covered a variety of topics, including access to mental health care for medical trainees and educating medical students and residents about the business side of medicine. Access the AMA reports and resolutions here. Watch for outcomes from the AMA Interim Meeting in future issues of It’s Academic

Save the Date for the 2016 TMA Winter Conference 

Don't miss the 2016 TMA Winter Conference, Jan. 29-30 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin. Visit the TMA website for updates on the event.    

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This Month in Texas Medicine

The November issue of Texas Medicine features a cover story on the 2015 Texas Legislature’s passage of a law that heeds TMA’s call for improvements in the state Office of Inspector General’s (OIG’s) Medicaid fraud investigations of physicians. The story chronicles one physician’s ongoing battle with OIG over Medicaid overpayment allegations levied against him from 2005 to 2008. In the issue you’ll also find information on efforts some medical schools are undertaking to arm future doctors with the nutrition knowledge they’ll need; the inaugural graduating class of TMA’s Accountable Care Leadership Program; the Walk With a Doc fitness program; and TMA’s request for reversal of a court ruling that allows a Texas negligence case to proceed in New Mexico. 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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