It's Academic

January 2016 

   Texas Ranks Near the Top in U.S. Physician Recruitment 

Thanks to our strong economy, good practice environment, and 2003 medical liability reforms, Texas continues to be a national leader in physician growth. The just-released 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Data Book shows Texas ranked second only to California in net growth in the number of patient care physicians from 2012 to 2014 and fifth in the nation in percentage growth. 

That continues a trend AAMC has documented since 2008. During that period, Texas ranked second nationally both in percentage and net growth for physicians actively engaged in patient care. The gain for Texas was nearly as high as increases for Florida and New York combined. "Texas has effective medical lawsuit reforms," said Howard Marcus, MD, chair of the Texas Alliance for Patient Access. "Florida and New York do not."

In a 2014 state comparison, Texas ranked 32nd in the ratio of medical students per capita, with 27.6 per 100,000, compared with the national ratio of 34 per 100,000. The ratio of residents per capita for the state ranks quite a bit higher, at 22nd, with a ratio of 29.1 per 100,000, compared with a national ratio of 36.9 per 100,000.  

Texas ranks third in retention of medical students and residents in the state, behind only Hawaii and Arkansas. California ranks fourth.  

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 UTHealth Receives $75M from McGovern Foundation; Renames Med School

The John P. McGovern Foundation made a $75 million gift to bolster medical training, provide full scholarships, and support scientific discovery and innovation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and its medical school. UTHealth Medical School has been renamed the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School in honor of the largest gift in the university’s history. 

“Today we honor the tremendous legacy of Dr. John P. McGovern and his wife Kathrine and we celebrate how this transformational gift will impact each and every one of you for years to come. The McGovern name is synonymous with service, knowledge, and compassion — values that are embedded in the very foundation of our university,” said UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD. 

The late John P. McGovern, MD, was a pediatrician, allergist, immunologist, and educator who helped shape the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in its formative years. Almost 55 years after establishing his foundation, now led by his wife, Kathrine, Dr. McGovern’s vision continues to transform TMC through numerous gifts supporting the art and science of medicine. 

In addition to scholarships, the gift will establish a collaborative research endowment and enhance programs at UTHealth’s McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, established in 2004 with another donation from the McGovern Foundation.  

“This extraordinary gift to UTHealth will reach far more than that of one great institution,” said William H. McRaven, chancellor of The University of Texas system. “It will impact the future health of Texans and beyond. Anyone educated, mentored, or treated by a McGovern scholar or professor will benefit from the highest principles of compassion and ethics inherent to the late Dr. McGovern himself. The UT system is honored that the John P. McGovern Foundation board elected to have UTHealth’s medical school bear the McGovern name. With this great honor comes profound responsibility, and I know that the leadership and faculty of UTHealth could not be happier or more deserving of this opportunity.” 

Dr. McGovern was also a long-time donor to the TMA Foundation. He endowed the foundation’s prestigious Champion of Health Award in 2004 to recognize outstanding community-based programs that promote good health through partnerships and measurable results.  

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Former Head of FDA, CMS Joins Dell Medical School Faculty

Mark McClellan, MD, a nationally known health policy expert who has led two federal health agencies, is joining the faculty at The University of Texas (UT) Dell Medical School in Austin. Dr. McClellan, the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), will work on health policy reform initiatives with colleagues at the medical school and across the UT campus.  

“Mark has been a national leader in conceptualizing how to build a better health care system, and now he can really accelerate the pace in putting that system in place,” said Clay Johnston, MD, inaugural dean of Dell Medical School. “Mark’s work will support efforts here and nationwide to revolutionize the way people get healthy and stay healthy.” 

Dr. McClellan directs the Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University. Leading a collaboration between Duke and UT-Austin, he will split time between the universities and help Dell Medical School implement policy and clinical reforms in Austin. 

“Real health care reform is hard to create and harder to put in place. New approaches are needed to develop, implement, and expand successful models,” Dr. McClellan said. “The Dell Medical School is bringing together critical resources to address these challenges and contributing to national leadership in health reform, making this a unique and important opportunity to affect change.” 

At the federal level, Dr. McClellan oversaw the development of the federal Medicare prescription drug benefit and the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative. Most recently, he was a senior fellow and director of the Health Care Innovation and Value Initiatives at the Brookings Institution. He earned a medical degree from the Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Division of Health Sciences and Technology, a doctoral degree in economics from MIT, and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. He is board certified in internal medicine and has been a practicing internist during his career. 

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 Select Committee to Tackle Mental Health Challenges in Texas

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) created a new committee to evaluate and improve the state’s behavioral health care system. The House Select Committee on Mental Health has been tasked with reviewing the behavioral health system, recommending ways to improve early identification of mental illness, and increasing collaboration among health care entities. The committee also will look at measuring and improving outcomes, examining challenges to providing care in underserved and rural areas of the state, and identifying the challenges of caring for veterans and homeless Texans.

Speaker Straus named Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) the chair of the committee and made Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) the vice chair. 

During the 2015 legislative session, mental health funding for the Texas Department of State Health Services received significant boosts in the 2016-17 budget. House Bill 1 allocated a total of $3.6 billion to mental health, an increase of $150 million over 2014-15 levels. The budget included nearly $6 million in additional funds for community mental health services; an increase of $20 million for state mental health hospitals; and more than $50 million extra for community mental health hospitals, including additional funding to increase community hospital beds. A bump in substance abuse funding includes about $11 million to expand prevention and treatment of neonatal abstinence syndrome. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler received $8 million to expand mental health workforce training programs in underserved areas, including the Rusk and Terrell State Hospitals. 

TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health established the Task Force on Behavioral Health, chaired by Dallas psychiatrist Les Secrest, MD. The group was instrumental in preparing for mental health issues that arose in the 2015 Texas Legislature and continues its work on these issues.   

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Nominate a Physician for National Resident Matching Program Board

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) needs to fill two vacancies on its oversight board. Nominees will be evaluated based on these criteria:   

  • Significant career in graduate medical education (GME);
  • Breadth and depth of experience dealing with GME issues;
  • Demonstrated leadership role in national medical education organization(s); and
  • Prior involvement with NRMP matching services.   

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 1. Email nominations to admin@nrmp.org, or fax them to (202) 354-4586. Nominations must include the nominee's curriculum vitae (maximum of 15 pages) and a letter of support. Visit the NRMP website for more details.  

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Depression a Big Problem Among Resident Physicians

A Dec. 9 article in the New England Journal of Medicine's Journal Watch titled “Depression Prevalence Among Resident Physicians Is ‘Extraordinarily High’ ” details the devastating impact depression has on some resident physicians. The article cites Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) data that indicate more than one-quarter of residents suffer from depression or depressive symptoms.  

Among the nearly 18,000 resident physicians (mostly in North America) assessed for depressive symptoms via interviews or questionnaires, researchers found “the overall prevalence of depression or depressive symptoms was 29 percent (range, 21 percent to 43 percent). The prevalence increased with each calendar year (from 1972 to 2012).” 

For more information, read this JAMA article on depression and this JAMA editorial on depression.   

AAMC Launches New Student and Resident Section of AAMC.org

As part of an ongoing effort to serve as the primary source of information, resources, and services for aspiring physicians, medical students, and residents, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) unveiled a major redesign of the student and resident section of AAMC.org.  

The site features a new look, improved navigation and search functions, and a mobile-friendly format. The pages medical students and residents access most also have been significantly enhanced, and the content has been updated and reorganized to align with the stages of a career in medicine. More than 7 million unique annual visitors use AAMC.org to find information about medical school and residency training.

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 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 January issue of Texas Medicine features a cover story on Texas Medical Board rules governing chronic pain treatment and physicians’ concerns that adhering to the rules is frustrating, onerous, and time-consuming. In the issue you’ll also find information on potential relief from Medicaid’s administrative roadblocks, $53 million in grant money to create new residency training slots in Texas, guidance in giving your policy and procedure manual a makeover, and a TMA resolution to raise awareness of human trafficking.  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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