Here Is How University Of Houston Plan To Tackle A Shortage Crisis

A University in Houston is looking to expand its courses given to students, by opening up a College of Medicine in the fall of 2020 after the institution was approved a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.


What’s Happening?

The University Of Houston has taken a big leap in its goal of providing more courses for its students, when it decided to establish a college fully dedicated to medicine on October 25, 2018.

The UH College of Medicine is in its works and is expected to open in the fall semester of 2020. Already, the school has already received a grant of $3.5 million from the John M. O’Quinn Foundation, which offers to pay tuition for up to 10 students. This fund also aims to pay for college startup costs, faculty wages, new technologies, labs and a health care program for poor communities.

University of Houston’s President, Renu Khator, said to Houston Public Media that the grant will help the College of medicine “attract the best and brightest medical students who have a passion for primary care.”

We got it done…unanimous vote from Coordinating Board for UH Doctor of Medicine program! pic.twitter.com/cXfGsA7rox

— Renu Khator (@UHpres) October 25, 2018

This plan came to reality after the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unanimously approved the UH’s proposal to focus on training primary care doctors to help people who are living in poor neighborhoods.

“We’re hopeful this school will have a great impact,”  President Khator said after the vote. “It’s the right thing to do for Houston and Texas and a natural maturation of our existing health-care programs.”

The Board also passed the same plan to help the University of North Texas Health Science Center establish a new college of its own as well. Plans for the UNT program are that the facility will be operating with Texas Christian University, a private institution in Fort Worth, who will provide a portion of the new college’s financing.

A reason for the unanimous decision to pass these proposals could be in regards to the pressing issue of the low numbers of primary care physicians in Texas.


Why Is This So Important?

A stethoscope laying on a table

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According to the Texas Department of Health Services, there are only 21,142 practicing physicians that have to care for 28.3 million Texans in 2017. This overwhelming margin between physicians and patients have led to a call for more people to enter the medical field. But this isn’t something that has been recent.

In 2015, it was reported by AMN Healthcare that a large number of population in Texas do not have adequate access to both primary care and specialized physicians due to staffing shortages. Studies have shown that 62% of counties suffered from the shortages of general surgeons while 14% of counties reported that they have no physicians of any kind.

A recent study revealed that nearly one out of five residents in nonmetropolitan counties had some sort of #mentalillness in 2016, which amounts to more than 6.5 million people. Exacerbating the problem is the growing shortage of #psychiatrists: https://t.co/58idE8iaqX pic.twitter.com/tux8wJyAFs

— Merritt Hawkins (@MerrittHawkins) October 11, 2018

This report was conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm. It exposed the tremendous margin in Texas’ physician workforce in all 254 of the state’s counties and raised awareness of the ratio between physicians and patients. The firm discovered that 185 counties have no general psychiatrist and 158 counties have no general surgeon.

With just a few schools in Texas that offers a physician degree, it is no wonder the board reached a unanimous decision.

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