It's Academic

February 2016 

 State Announces Provisional GME Expansion Grant Awards for 2016–17

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board announced provisional awards for graduate medical education (GME) expansion grants, as authorized in the 2015 legislature’s Senate Bill 18 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and sponsored by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton). Grants will fund residency positions at almost 100 programs, and the total requested amount exceeded available appropriations by 50 percent.   

The coordinating board announced $49.2 million in provisional grant awards for the next two years. The agency says it needs to continue processing the grant applications and awards. The agency doesn’t anticipate significant differences in the final awards, expected by mid-February. The coordinating board released awards in recognition of the Jan. 31 deadline for submission of 2016 match quotas by residency programs to the National Resident Matching Program. This deadline is critical to allow for new residency positions in the match.

The agency used these priority levels in determining the provisional grant awards:  

Residency positions initially funded through state grants in 2014-15
(Expected $65,000 per resident, per year)
FY 2016: 167
FY 2017: 273 

New primary care residency positions
(Expected $75,000 per resident, per year)
FY 2016: 44
FY 2017: 150 

$3.675 million for new residency positions in psychiatry
(Expected $75,000 per resident, per year)
FY 2016: 13
FY 2017: 36

No funding was available for the last priority level encompassing new positions or new residency programs in specialties not included in the prior three priority levels. 

Check future editions of It’s Academic for final grant award information.   

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 TMA Council on Medical Education Forms GME Funding Sources Workgroup 

The 2015 Texas Legislature took the monumental step of establishing the state’s first-ever permanent fund for graduate medical education (GME). Recognizing the unique opportunity for long-term GME funding, the TMA Council on Medical Education late last month established a Workgroup on Sources of GME Funding. The workgroup plans to hold its first meeting in late February to begin identifying and evaluating various proposals for funding GME, including potential sources of funding for the permanent fund.  

Senate Bill 18 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and sponsored by Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), identified the first potential funding source for the GME permanent fund. The bill directs the Texas Department of Insurance to conduct an assessment of any unneeded funds at the state’s Joint Underwriting Association. Any identified unneeded funds are to be transferred to the GME permanent fund. The fund can accept donations and grants.  

Watch for future updates on the workgroup’s activities in It’s Academic.  

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THECB Tracking Texas Med School Graduates, Residents Completing Training

Texas will begin tracking Texas medical school graduates who remain in the state for residency training, as well as residents who complete training and become licensed in the state. Senate Bill 295 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to track the initial medical training information for Texas medical school graduates and the initial practice choices of those completing residency programs in the state. Residents will be tracked two years following completion of residency to determine their practice specialty and practice location. The agency will identify whether and for how long physicians work in primary care in the state. 

Following the 2016 National Resident Matching Program and American Osteopathic Association Match, the coordinating board plans to collect match results for fourth-year medical students in the state. They will partner with the Texas Medical Board to collect practice information for residents completing training who then go on to receive a Texas medical license.   

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UTMB, UH-Clear Lake Offer MD-MBA Dual Degree Program

Medical students at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) seeking to gain an edge with additional management and finance skills can obtain a master’s of business administration (MBA) degree at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UH-Clear Lake) while working on their medical doctorate (MD) starting this year.  

The MD-MBA program targets medical students who wish to go on to private or group practice or health system administration, or into biotechnology, health system management, or health care entrepreneurship. Students can earn both degrees in as little as five years. 

The program requires MD-MBA students to take a year off from their medical studies, preferably between their third year and fourth year of medical school. They don’t take courses concurrently. The Medical College Admission Test is used in place of the GRE graduate school entry exam for admissions. 

“Some physicians decide they would like to have the added expertise that a business degree can provide,” said Michael Ainsworth, MD, UTMB vice dean for academic affairs. “It might be as simple as having a better sense of the financial aspects of the medical practice. It might be wanting to take a leadership role in a health system which requires more knowledge of finance.” 

The MD-MBA program began accepting applications last month. Courses will start later this summer. 

“As a health science center, UTMB doesn’t offer these types of classes,” Dr. Ainsworth said. “We wanted to find someone to partner with, and UH-Clear Lake is the closest and most appropriate partner. They have a very high-quality business curriculum, so we felt it was only natural to work together.” 

David L. Callender, MD, president of UTMB, said the agreement was a good fit for both institutions. 

“We wanted our students to have an option to develop additional business skills that will complement their medical professional skills and better prepare them for leadership roles,” Dr. Callender said. “The students are the winners in this partnership.” 

The 54-credit-hour program offers medical students a chance to complete some of the MBA classes prior to their medical school studies and to complete other classes between their third year and fourth year in medical school. Students can take classes online or at UH-Clear Lake, just 35 miles north of UTMB. 

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Help Shape the Next Generation of Medicine

The Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians (TXACP) is asking your help in identifying physician mentors for the summer 2016 General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program (GIMSPP). Help get the word out.

Preceptors open the doors to their practice to provide a medical student personal instruction, training, and supervision for three to four weeks. Students get the opportunity to observe the daily routine of the physician, experiencing the variety the practice of internal medicine provides. For physicians, benefits of preceptorship include:    

  • The opportunity to give back, while rekindling your passion for medicine, 
  • The ability to help advance primary care in Texas, and
  • An enriching experience for the student and preceptor.    

“GIMSPP isn’t just good for the students; it’s good for the preceptors,” said Susan Andrew, MD, TXACP member and long-standing preceptor. 

Preceptors must be board certified in internal medicine, possess a current Texas medical license with no restrictions from the Texas Medical Board, and practice at least 40 percent to 50 percent general internal medicine apart from any other subspecialties. 

For more information on the program or to download the preceptorship application, visit the TXACP website

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  AAMC Announces Leadership Additions

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has appointed an executive vice president, a chief operating officer, and a new public policy officer.  

Attorney Karen Fisher, who served as senior health counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for the past four years, will join AAMC in May as chief public policy officer. She will succeed Atul Grover, MD, who becomes the association’s executive vice president on March 1.  

In his new role, Dr. Grover will lead medical education, academic affairs, health care affairs, scientific affairs, learning and leadership programming, diversity and inclusion, public policy, and communications. Also effective March 1, Diana Bourke, AAMC chief information officer since 2013, becomes chief operating officer.  

 Report Examines Medicare's Pay-for-Performance Programs at Major Teaching Hospitals

A recent Analysis in Brief examines the impact of three Medicare hospital quality performance programs on major teaching hospitals. The results show a portion of major teaching hospitals have consistent penalties across all three programs. Moreover, hospitals with the largest penalties have a higher percentage of low-income patients compared with the top performers. These findings raise questions about the fairness of program design and whether Medicare’s quality performance programs sufficiently adjust for patient population characteristics.

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 Feds Grant Six-Month Extension on Medicaid Reenrollment

Thanks to lobbying from TMA and organized medicine, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has extended the deadline for most physicians to reenroll in Medicaid to Sept. 25, 2016. Texas Medicaid officials say they “encourage all providers who have not yet submitted a reenrollment application to begin this process immediately to avoid potential payment disruptions.” TMA also has been urging Texas physicians to get ahead of the complex process. The initial deadline for reenrollment, driven by a provision in the Affordable Care Act, was March 24.

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TMA Minority Scholarship Program Application Is Available

TMA will be able to award 11 medical students with $10,000 scholarships through the TMA Minority Scholarship Program for students accepted for admission to a Texas medical school in the fall. The program helps minorities who are underrepresented in Texas medical schools and the state’s physician workforce. TMA increased the award amount from $5,000 to $10,000 for scholarship winners beginning this year. To be considered for a scholarship, TMA must receive applications by 5 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. 

The funds will be disbursed directly to the school in increments of $2,500 annually during the first four years of a student’s matriculation. These scholarships are made possible through generous donations solicited by the TMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of TMA.

Applicant Requirements  

  • Applicants must be African-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American.
  • Students already attending medical school are not eligible.
  • Applicants must be an accepted for admission at the school awarding the loan during fall 2016.
  • One scholarship is awarded annually per Texas medical school. (Should the recipient choose to matriculate elsewhere, he or she loses the scholarship and a new recipient is chosen.)
  • Applicants must complete an application.
  • Applicants must provide confirmation they have accepted an offer for admission to a Texas medical school in the fall.
  • Applicants must write an essay, not to exceed 750 words, explaining how they would “improve the health of all Texans.”  

The winning candidates will be notified in March. A scholarship certificate will be presented at TexMed 2016 in Dallas on April 29. (Attendance is required.) 

Please share this information with eligible minority students in Texas, and encourage them to visit the program website and apply. For more information, call (800) 880-2828, ext. 1600, or email

TMA’s 2016 Minority Scholarship Program is made possible with a grant from the TMA Foundation (TMAF) thanks to the TMAF Trust Fund of Dr. Roberto J. and Agniela (Annie) M. Bayardo; the TMAF Patrick Y. Leung, MD, Minority Scholarship Endowment; and generous gifts from H-E-B and physicians and their families.

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This Month in Texas Medicine

The February issue of Texas Medicine symposium on medical education, guest edited by Surendra K. Varma, MD, and John Jennings, MD, covers residency training costs, the Next Accreditation System, graduate medical education in rural Texas, Texas’ physician workforce needs, the current state of education reform, and efforts to retain medical graduates in Texas. Dr. Varma is executive associate dean for graduate medical education and resident affairs, Ted Hartman Endowed Chair in Medical Education, university distinguished professor, and vice chair of pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He is a member of the Texas Medicine Editorial Board. Dr. Jennings is the immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at the Permian Basin. He is chair of the Texas Medicine Editorial Board. See what your peers, residents, and students have to say about the future of medical education in this special edition. Check out our digital edition

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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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