Nine Texas hospitals, including Weatherford Regional Medical Center, have been awarded $1.3 million in planning grants from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to assess the feasibility of establishing new graduate medical education programs at their facilities.
Grant funds are part of $50 million appropriated by the 83rd Texas Legislature to boost funding for GME in Texas and increase access to physicians in underserved areas.
These funds are intended to address the state’s physician shortage that creates access difficulties for residents. Texas has the fastest-growing population in the nation but a lower-than-average physician to population ratio. Among the most severe shortages are those for primary care physicians, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, geriatricians and pediatric sub-specialists.
Retaining in-state medical school graduates and residents is the most effective way to increase the number of physicians in Texas. Eighty percent of Texas medical school graduates who complete their residencies in Texas stay in-state to practice medicine.
“At a time when hospitals are facing an increased financial burden from a growing number of uninsured patients and state and federal funding cuts, they contribute substantial financial resources to cover the costs of training future physicians,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/CEO. “The 83rd Texas Legislature’s investment is recognition that GME is a public good. Sustaining and building this investment will be essential to ensure that there are enough physicians to meet the health care needs of all Texans.”
According to THECB, Texas needs an additional 220 residency positions beginning in 2014 and an increasing number thereafter. Without an increase in the number of first-year residency slots, beginning in 2014, 63 Texas medical school graduates will have to conduct their residency training out of state. By 2016, the number triples.
The GME planning grantees are:
• Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center, Houston.
• Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, Edinburg.
• Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, Sulphur Springs.
• Knapp Medical Center, Weslaco.
• Memorial Health System of East Texas, Lufkin.
• Scenic Mountain Medical Center, Big Spring.
• DeTar Healthcare System, Victoria.
• Texoma Medical Center, Denison.
• Weatherford Regional Medical Center, Weatherford.