Texas Student Doctor: February 2011

News from the TMA Medical Student Section

Students Take Leadership Positions 

TMA's Medical Student Section selected two rising stars to join TMA leadership. Baylor College of Medicine student Neil Parikh will sit on the TMA Board of Trustees when TexMed 2011 ends, and Maryam Shambayati, of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, will be the student member of the Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association. Congratulations to both. 

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Medical Students Help Texans Make Healthy Choices 

Congratulations to the TMA Medical Student Chapters whose Healthier Life Steps programs were awarded a grant through TMA Foundation's new Medical Student Community Leadership Grants Program for 2010.  

Health Circus
Texas A&M HSC-COM/TMA Student Chapter
This program seeks to immunize the children of Brazos Valley through health fairs led by students and community agencies. Other services include health screenings and physicals, nutrition education, glucose screenings, and information about drug/alcohol abuse and healthy living. 

HIV and STI High School Outreach Project
Baylor College of Medicine/TMA Student Chapter
Students visit local high schools to deliver a presentation on the science, stereotypes, and local/global impact of HIV/AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. 

Sandwiches and Salud
The University of Texas at Houston Medical School/TMA Student Chapter
Students provide a needed meal for residents at the Star of Hope Mission, where tenants and their families live in small apartments and receive training in financial management, interview skills, and child care. During the student-sponsored luncheon, residents will hear presentations on healthy eating, diabetes prevention, obesity awareness, and the importance of a well-balanced lifestyle. 

Healthy & Sikh: Wellness Fair
The University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston/TMA Student Chapter
Students conduct a community health fair targeting the Sikh population of Houston to address specific health issues that affect the community and offer health education that is sensitive to the lifestyle of the community. 

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UTMB Wins TMAF Award for Helping the Uninsured 

Two programs at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) that serve uninsured Texans received an award from the TMA Foundation during the TMA Winter Conference in Austin last month. 

The Community Health Program (CHP) and St. Vincent’s Student-Run Free Clinic aim to reduce patients’ reliance on emergency departments for care by offering free primary care and intervention for uninsured patients. More than one-fifth of Galveston County residents are uninsured, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. 

UTMB received the secondary award associated with the foundation’s 2011 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award, which carries a $2,500 grant to support the winning programs. The top winner was the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program of Beaumont, recognized for its outstanding contribution to Texas’ public health through its holistic approach to fighting cancer. The program offers uninsured and underinsured patients free education, cancer detection, and access to treatment.

CHP provides preventive and primary care to uninsured patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Although these patients often suffer health complications, CHP has helped patients avoid them. They decreased in-patient hospital admissions by 55 percent and reduced patients’ use of emergency care by 61 percent over three years.

Volunteer students from UTMB’s medical, nursing, and allied health schools staff St. Vincent’s Student-Run Free Clinic. They provide free outpatient medical services for the community’s underserved and indigent populations. During the clinic’s 40-year history, it has added several specialty-care services to patients, including gynecology, neurology, and psychiatry, as well as offering laboratory and pathology services.

For more information about the TMA Foundation and this award, go to www.tmaf.org, or call (800) 880-1300, ext. 1664, or (512) 370-1664.  

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Legislature Looks to Slash Education Funding 

Medical education stands to take a serious hit this year as state legislators look to cut the budget to erase a huge shortfall. According to an analysis by the TMA Medical Education Department, formula funding for medical schools and health-related institutions would be cut by 23 percent per medical student annually in House Bill 1, the budget bill making its way through the Texas House of Representatives. Formula funding for graduate medical education (GME) would go down by 33 percent.   

HB 1 also zeroes out both the Medicaid physician loan repayment program created as part of the settlement of the Frew v. Hawkins lawsuit and a second physician loan repayment program expanded just two years ago to attract more physicians to rural and underserved areas. That means 176 physicians who made commitments to practice in an underserved area in 2010 as part of the program would be denied future funding by the state.   

It also takes away all Higher Education Coordinating Board funding for primary care preceptorships, optional rural and public health rotations, and primary care residency programs, for a loss of almost $13.5 million a year. (Note:  Although reduced, some funding still would be available for primary care GME programs through the separate GME formula funding process mentioned above.)   

The Senate's version of the budget bill, SB 1, is somewhat more generous on medical education and workforce budgets. It provides $3 million more in GME formula funding than does HB 1 and about $2,000 more per student per year for medical school formula funding.   

SB 1 does eliminate the Frew physician and dentist loan repayment program, which received $33 million in the current two-year budget, but maintains $17.5 million over two years for the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program. The Senate Finance Committee already began public hearings on their respective budget proposals for the medical schools, health-related institutions, and the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The House Appropriations Committee will start in mid-February. TMA will provide testimony on the expected impact of the proposed budget cuts on state efforts to produce physicians necessary for meeting the state's health care needs.  

Here's TMA's take on GME funding:   

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 gained more than 21,000 new physicians. However, we still don't have enough physicians to keep up with the state's robust population growth. Further, Texas would need to add 12,000 more physicians to meet the national ratio of 241 patient care physicians per 100,000 population.   

Texas medical schools are doing their part to expand medical student enrollments. However, GME programs are not growing in the same fashion. As a result, many of our newest physicians will move to other states. 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 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. 

TMA'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.  

TMA's Message 

  • 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 and the health of Texans.  
  • 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.  

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Save Medical Education: Sign Up for First Tuesdays  

You can work to save medical education funding by lobbying lawmakers and explaining to them how vital undergraduate and graduate medical education are to the future of health care in Texas. We don't need to cut the number of new physicians trained in Texas, nor do we need to have any more new physicians leave the state after graduating from our medical schools. 

How can you help? The easiest way is to come to Austin and make your voice heard during First Tuesdays at the Capitol on March 1, April 5, and May 3. The April 5 program is especially important, as it will focus on medical students and residents.   

The First Tuesdays program has been incredibly successful since it began in 2003. Lawmakers say seeing all those white lab coats in their offices and in the Capitol galleries and hallways makes a difference. They listen when their hometown doctors show up in their offices.  

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Legislative Hotline Keeps You Informed  

While you are going about your day, the Texas Legislature is in Austin making decisions that affect you. You can stay informed about what lawmakers are doing by signing up for TMA's Legislative Hotline   

The Hotline is a daily newsletter only for TMA members delivered to your e-mail inbox. It tracks issues affecting medicine and reports on the latest actions of the legislature. The Hotline is delivered each legislative day before noon during the 140-day session. A weekly recap, delivered each Friday, also is available. 

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TexMed 2011 Set May 13-14 in Houston 

"Caring for Patients in a Time of Change" is the theme of TexMed 2011, May 13-14, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The conference offers more than 100 hours of clinical and business continuing medical education (CME), an exhibit hall with some 100 exhibits, and a chance to learn how to enhance patient care, stay abreast of clinical updates, discuss key issues with experts in the field, and help set TMA policy on issues that are important to you. Attendance at TexMed is free for TMA members. 

Make your housing reservations at the Hyatt Regency Houston by April 18 to receive the special TMA rate of $149 single/double. All rooms are subject to a 15-percent state and room tax. Call the Hyatt Regency Houston at (713) 654 1234. 

You can register for the conference and make your housing reservations online on the TexMed 2011 webpage or contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 or knowledge[at]texmed[dot]org. 

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What Would You Do About Health System Reform? 

KaiserEDU.org  challenges students to submit an original essay on health system reform for a chance to win $1,500.  

There has been extensive debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Americans remain divided about what lawmakers should do going forward. Some favor expanding the law, some want to leave it as is and focus on implementation, and some want to repeal parts of or the entire law.    

You've just been hired as a health aide to a member of Congress who has asked you to prepare a memo summarizing what the next steps should be on health reform. In 1,000 words or less, explain and justify your recommendations, identify major challenges, and discuss how they could be addressed. 

Contest Details 

  • Submissions will be accepted from undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a university-based, degree-granting program.  
  • Essays must not exceed 1,000 words in length and must be original work, prepared by one author only. 
  • Entries must be submitted online only. No e-mails will be accepted. 
  • All essays must be submitted by 4 pm Feb. 28.  
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of professionals with experience in health policy and politics from inside and outside the Kaiser Family Foundation. Winners will be notified by April 15.  
  • Undergraduate and graduate students will be judged separately, and first-place winners will be awarded $1,500; second-place winners will receive $750. 

For more information and complete rules and requirements, visit  kaiseredu.org/Essay-Contest.aspx . 

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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

May 13, 2016