Thursday, August 8, 2013

Legislature Fights Physician Shortages

This past legislative session was the first one in a long time in which lawmakers took a hard look at graduate medical education (GME) in Texas and its impact on ensuring an adequate physician workforce to meet patient demand. GME is the period of medical training after graduation from medical school, known as residency.

The number of residency positions in Texas is not keeping up with the growing demand for physicians or the number of medical students. A report last year by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board estimated that at least 63 medical school graduates will not be able to find a residency program in Texas next year. That number jumps to 180 students in 2016.  With no opportunity to complete their training in state, medical school graduates are forced to look elsewhere, decreasing the likelihood they will return to Texas. And since Texas invests in the education of medical students ― around $168,000 per student — the state loses more than just a doctor.

This year lawmakers passed legislation intended to grow these much-needed residency slots. They increased funding for GME by 45 percent, from $67 million in 2012-13 to $97 million for 2014-15. Measures include grants for hospitals not currently offering GME; funding for accredited, unfilled, and unfunded GME positions; and funding for newly developed GME positions, including the potential for development of new GME programs.

Read More: Ensure an Adequate Health Care Workforce

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