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A second medical school in Fort Worth is a misplaced priority

Posted Nov 08 2010 12:00am
The physician shortage in Texas has commanded an unusual amount of public interest in recent weeks. The Houston Chronicle (Oct. 17), Star Telegram (Oct. 19) and Fort Worth Business Press (Oct. 27) all devoted space to the growing shortage of physicians in Texas and the steps necessary to correct the problem. The three articles recognized that the availability of residency slots is the determining factor in addressing the physician shortage. This conclusion has been confirmed in numerous national research studies. Residency opportunities are important because physicians often settle in the communities where they complete their residencies. Dr. Gary Floyd, chief medical officer of John Peter Smith, stated that “seventy to 80% [medical residents] will stay within 100 miles of where they are trained.”

In 2010, there are 1,404 medical graduates and 1,390 first-year residency slots in Texas. According to Todd Ackerman from the Houston Chronicle, 45 percent of Texas medical graduates leave the state to pursue out-of-state residencies . Many of these doctors never return to Texas. Therefore, the lack of residency opportunities not only reduces patients’ access to physicians, but it also imposes a steep financial cost. According to estimates from the Texas Medical Association cited in the Chronicle’s article, each Texas medical graduate who completes a residency outside of Texas and does not return to practice costs the state $200,000.
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