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UH Takes Big Step toward Establishing College of Medicine with Approval from State of Texas

The college plans to apply for accreditation with the federal body for medical degree programs in December

The University of Houston took Thursday a big step toward establishing its College of Medicine after the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) unanimously approved a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree for UH.

“We continue to take careful, well-measured steps forward, and receiving the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s endorsement is another clear indication that we are on the right track,” said Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston.  “We look forward to sustaining this progress and playing a vital role in improving the overall health and health care resources of our city and our state.” 

“The UH and Houston community is energized in support of this project. We are thankful that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board sees the validity of our mission to train physicians with a deep understanding of health disparities and social determinants of health,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the College of Medicine. “We remain focused on recruiting top quality faculty while developing an innovative curriculum.”

There are still several critical steps remaining before the College of Medicine can open its doors to students. In December, the College of Medicine will submit its application for accreditation with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the federal accrediting body for medical degree programs.

In January 2019, UH will seek $40 million in appropriations over 10 years from the Texas Legislature, approximately eight percent of the total $450 million in funding sources.

The remaining startup costs include private support, intellectual property revenue, institutional funds and private/public partnerships. To date, UH has raised $35 million of $40 million in private philanthropy for the college.

This week, UH released a video in which health care and business leaders acknowledge the need for a new college of medicine in Houston focusing on forming primary care physicians and support the university’s plan.

 

Bill McKeon, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Medical Center, says in the video a primary care-focused medical school is “essential” for Houston and adds the institutions that form the Texas Medical Center see the UH College of Medicine as “extremely complementary to the existing hospitals and medical schools.”

The UH College of Medicine aims for at least 50 percent of each graduating class to specialize in primary care, while the national average is approximately 20 percent. 

UH contends that philosophy is useful because Texas faces a substantial primary care physician shortage and ranks 47th out of 50 states in primary care physician-to-population ratio. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the state will need to add another 6,400, a 32 percent increase, by 2030.

Additionally, Houston’s population has tripled since the last medical school was established in the city in 1972 and, despite being home to the Texas Medical Center, large sections of the city are measured as having high or moderately high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, according to the Health of Houston Survey 2015.

Earlier this month, Humana announced a $15 million gift to UH to launch the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute, which will unite the College of Medicine with the existing Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Optometry.

The College of Medicine is scheduled to admit 30 students in its inaugural class.

UH is finalizing a partnership with HCA Houston Healthcare, the largest hospital company in the nation, to bring a total of 389 new resident positions to the College of Medicine over its first six years.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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