Will Texas have too many medical students?

AUSTIN (KXAN) —  We all want the best doctors to stay in Texas, but a surge of developments may actually send a lot of them packing.

Since 2009, Texas has been flush with plans for medical schools. The University of Texas at Austin will have its first class at the Dell Medical School in July. The same University of Texas system also has a new medical school at the UT Rio Grande Valley campus.

Texas Tech University System opened a school in El Paso. Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center will open a school in 2018. Sam Houston State is looking into a school of medicine in the Woodlands, a Houston suburb. The University of Houston hopes to have one by 2019.

Lawmakers put more money towards residency slots – the on the job training after medical school – but this possible influx of students have caused some to worry.

Dr. David Fleeger, Ph.D, says the three to seven years after med-school can be crucial for upcoming doctors.

“Our medical students will be trained with our tax dollars and then they’ll have to go to other states,” said Fleeger.

He says the stats prove once those doctors leave, they don’t come back. Once the students do residency in other states, they start a family, make friends, and make business and career connections. All of those ties keep up and coming doctors abroad even though they received their education in the lone star state.

“We’re losing students already. Any more medical school positions are going to increase that,” said Fleeger.

It was a topic at a House Committee on Higher Education, where some think Houston could soon have too many institutions. Much of it in response to UT-System purchasing land 3.5 miles from the Texas Medical Center. Nearly 20 lawmakers have openly opposed the move by largest University system in the state.

“I have concerns about over-saturating in Houston, ” said Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, to Chancellor William McCraven, head of the UT System. He responded in the meeting saying the new land could be sold for profit if lawmakers don’t want a new expansion. He said his role was making sure the UT System had the best, high quality education facilities and programs it could.

Medical professionals across Texas hope that we’ll have more money for residency slots if we have money for all these medical schools. The group Teaching Hospitals of Texas estimates that a residency spot costs $100,000 a year.

The Texas Medical Association has a goal of 1.1 entry-level residency slots per med school grad by 2022. With that in mind, the state will need 500 more slots.

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