Texas Student Doctor: October 2010

News from the TMA Medical Student Section  

  Student Recruitment Competition  

In an effort to reach our 2010 membership goal of 45,000 medical student and physician members, the TMA Medical Student Section is making a final recruitment push!

To reward your efforts, a free hotel room during either the TMA Winter Conference or First Tuesdays will be awarded to the following category winners:

  • Highest membership percentage of the first-year class, and 
  • Highest overall membership percentage for the school.

The winner will be determined by online or paper application received on or before Dec. 31. Good luck!

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 Academic Standing of Medical Students Rising Despite Higher Enrollment  

With substantial class size increases at Texas medical schools over the past several years and the opening of the new Texas Tech University medical school in El Paso, many medical educators expected the overall qualifications of some medical school applicants to drop. But, in fact, it appears the exact opposite is happening.

According to new data released by the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS), both grade point averages (GPAs) and scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for both medical school applicants and first-year enrollees have been trending upward since 2000.

And medical educators say that is good news as Texas looks to further expand opportunities for medical education in the state through more new medical schools and additional enrollment increases.

"I think the bottom line is there definitely is an adequate pool of good premed students so that if we had the capacity, we could increase the number of physicians in Texas," said Steven Berk, MD, dean of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Lubbock.

According to the TMDSAS data, average GPAs for first-year enrollees at Texas medical schools, excluding Baylor College of Medicine, have risen from a low of 3.62 in 2001 and 2002 to 3.68 in 2009. Meanwhile, average MCAT scores have risen from a low of 28.3 to 30.0 during the same period.

Baylor does not participate in the TMDSAS. A Baylor spokesperson says their average GPAs and MCAT scores have remained fairly consistent over the past several years. In 2009, Baylor's entering class had an average GPA of 3.82 and an average MCAT score of 33.42. The maximum score on the MCAT exam is 45, or 15 for each of three sections, of the test.

While the numbers for first-year enrollees improved, so did those for applicants. GPAs for applicants went from 3.46 in 2000 to 3.52 in 2009. MCAT scores for applicants also climbed from 26.3 in 2002 to 27.5 in 2009.

More information on the increase will be published in the December issue of Texas Medicine.

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 AGCME Revises Resident Work Hour Rules  

The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has released its final resident work hour rules  (PDF). They take effect next July 1.

The rules include reducing shifts for interns from 24 hours to 16 hours and recommending "strategic napping," and retaining the maximum shift for residents in their second year at 24 hours. Also, the rules say medical residents must tell patients they're supervised by more experienced physicians, and the hierarchy should be spelled out to patients.

In addition, there is a maximum of six consecutive nights for in-house night float. In-house on-call frequency for second-year residents and higher can be no more than every third night.  There are expanded program and institutional requirements for handoffs. Moonlighting is counted toward the 80-hour cap.

ACGME President Thomas Nasca, MD, said the revisions "will require small change in some programs and large changes in others, all with the goals of ensuring patient safety, that the next generations of physicians are well-trained to serve the public and that residents receive their training in a humanistic learning environment."

Third-year family practice resident Travis Bias, DO, one of the chief residents at the Memorial Family Practice Residency Program in Sugar Land, says many residents have serious concerns that the new limits will increase the possibility of errors because of increased patient hand-offs from shift to shift.

"With those increased hand-offs, there's been shown to be an increase in errors," said Dr. Bias, who also is the resident representative on the TMA Board of Trustees.

He also says residents worry the new rules could force extended residencies in some specialties -- particularly surgical specialties -- because they cannot see as many patients as they used to. "Right now, neurosurgery is a seven-year residency," Dr. Bias said. "But if you're only getting X number of procedures because your work hours are limited, then people are worried you're going to start tacking years onto that."

Meanwhile, the  U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced in September that it is examining a request from the national advocacy organization Public Citizen that it examine whether resident physicians are required to work too many hours, thus jeopardizing the safety of themselves and their patients.

"We are very concerned about medical residents working extremely long hours, and we know of evidence linking sleep deprivation with an increased risk of needle sticks, puncture wounds, lacerations, medical errors, and motor vehicle accidents," said David Michaels, PhD, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

"The relationship of long hours, worker fatigue, and safety is a concern beyond medical residents, since there is extensive evidence linking fatigue with operator error," he said. "In its investigation of the root causes of the BP Texas City oil refinery explosion in 2005, in which 15 workers were killed and approximately 170 injured, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board identified worker fatigue and long work hours as a likely contributing factor to the explosion. It is clear that long work hours can lead to tragic mistakes, endangering workers, patients, and the public. All employers must recognize and prevent workplace hazards. That is the law. Hospitals and medical training programs are not exempt from ensuring that their employees' health and safety are protected."

The November issue of Texas Medicine will have more information on the new standards.

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Texas Gains 3,500 New Physicians

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) licensed 3,523 new physicians in fiscal year 2010. The total was second to only fiscal year 2008 for the number of new physicians licensed in one year. The 3,523 new licenses came from among 4,218 physicians who applied for licenses during the year.  

The total number of new licensees was up from 3,129 doctors licensed in 2009. TMB set an all time record for new licenses in 2008 when 3,621 new licenses were issued.  

The 2009 total of new licensees dipped even though the number of applications actually increased from 4,023 in 2008 to 4,094 in 2009. TMB officials could not explain the drop in licenses issued that year.  

Almost three out of four of the new physicians - 71.8 percent - graduated from medical schools in other states or countries.  

The breakdown is:  

Medical School   Count   Percentage  
1. Texas 995 28.2 percent
2. Other U.S./Canadian 1,440 40.9 percent
3. International 1,087 30.9 percent 

Since Texas enacted the TMA-backed medical liability reforms in 2003, the number of applicants and new licensees each year has grown significantly. In fiscal year 2003, TMB received 2,561 applications and licensed 2,513 new doctors.  

"The fact that the favorable practice climate created by the 2003 medical liability reforms continues to attract physicians to Texas in near-record numbers is good news for Texas patients," said Dallas dermatologist Dan McCoy, MD, chair of TMA's Council on Legislation. "At a time when Texas continues to trail the nation in the average number of practicing physicians per 100,000 population, it is vital that we maintain these reforms and keep outstanding doctors coming to Texas."  

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 AMA-MSS to Meet in San Diego  

The 2010 American Medical Association Medical Student Section (MSS) Interim Meeting will be Nov. 4-6 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego in San Diego.

Scheduled events include:

Three days of educational programs on a wide range of topics;

  • Policymaking sessions;
  • Eighth Annual Joint Research Symposium;  
  • AMA-MSS National Service Project event; and
  • AMA-MSS Leadership School.

Also scheduled are the AMA-MSS Elections . The AMA-MSS Assembly will elect a new Governing Council chair-elect and the next student member of the AMA Board of Trustees. Additionally, AMA-MSS regions will elect medical student regional delegates and alternate delegates for 2011. Oct. 1 is the deadline to apply.

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 TMA Offers Educational Loans  

Do you know TMA offers educational loans to students attending Texas medical schools? These small, private loans are often included in students' financial aid packages. Depending on which medical school you attend, you may be eligible for a $3,000 or $4,000 loan with a 4.4-percent fixed interest rate. 

Each school handles the funds a little bit differently, so if you are interested in this program, visit the TMA website , or call (800) 880-2828.

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 TMA on Facebook and Twitter 

For more inside news about TMA events and issues, become a fan of the Medical Student Section on Facebook .

You also can stay up-to-date about Texas medicine by subscribing via RSS to Blogged Arteries , which provides breaking news you need to know, and by following @texmed on Twitter .

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Last Updated On

July 18, 2013

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