Texas has had too few primary care doctors for a while. It has been characterized by some as a "potential crisis." Building new medical schools seems like the best way to deal with that, so the state built new medical schools in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, and are exploring more campuses in Houston and in North Texas.
But as the state turns out more doctors, some have to travel to other states to get a residency placement, a critical step in the doctor pipeline. According to Maureen Milligan, president and ceo of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas, that is really a better predictor of where a doctor will end up.
"We know for example that when you do medical school in Texas and a residency your 80 percent likely to stay in state," says Milligan.
Raymund Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education at the Higher Education Coordinating Board, agrees that residencies are the key to keeping doctors in Texas. The slots are $100,000 a piece for the government and Paredes expects they will need an additional $31 million in the next legislative session to fund new residencies. The increasing growth in medical schools without regard for residencies gives Paredes pause.
"Were concerned that the state doesn't have the resources to build more medical schools and fund graduate medical education at an adequate level."
The doctor shortage in Texas is for primary care doctors, an increasingly rare specialty for people to take up. A nationwide shortage of primary care doctors is predicted by 2025. Many medical students called and emailed the program to express their reasoning for not going into primary care.
The nuances of getting more doctors, and more of the necessary doctors into Texas, proliferate the more you look at the issue.
- Maureen Milligan, president and ceo of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas
- Raymund Paredes, commissioner of higher education at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board