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Saturday, October 12th 2013

More Undergraduate Medical Education For Texas

I went on a rant a while ago about the University of Texas system promising two new medical schools. One for Austin and one for the Rio Grande Valley.

[P]lenty of money will come from state general revenue afforded to the university systems. That is money from tax payers across the state who are likely to see no to nominal benefit from these new schools.

New medical schools in Texas are unlikely to improve our statewide physician shortage and may even do little to correct disparities in the communities they’re joining. We’re already graduating enough medical students and in a strong position to continue to do so for our growing population without new medical campuses. The schools will bring new graduate medical education funding, in the form of new Medicare dollars, but such will not keep pace with the new medical school graduates they promise. The costs of these new medical schools would be much better put towards improving graduate medical education in the state. That is something that would truly improve Texas’ doctor shortage and potentially the public’s health.

IN 2011 Texas’ had 2.36 medical school seats per 10000 population. That was 10th in the nation. Since then the state has opened a new public medical school in El Paso, expanded the class size of every existing medical school in addition to the two new University of Texas schools currently in planning.

Now, my hometown, San Antonio, is looking to get a new school of osteopathic medicine.

The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a $7.7 million funding agreement for infrastructure improvements and job incentives, some of which will literally help pave the way for the University of the Incarnate Word to build an osteopathic medical school in downtown San Antonio.

With too few GME spots this will do nothing to help the physician shortage in Texas or San Antonio and is likely to have little impact on health in the surrounding community. Of course it has some economic and prestige effects but there should be more skepticism about the long term goals of such a school. Even more so in terms of the choice of an osteopathic focus.