Texas has too few physicians to meet the health care needs of its rapidly growing population. Statewide, there is a severe shortage of primary care physicians, as well specialists in a number of disciplines, including psychiatry, pediatrics, endocrinology and geriatrics.
The most effective way to increase the number of physicians practicing here is to retain the medical school graduates who are educated in our Texas medical schools. If the number of first-year residency positions does not increase, beginning in 2014, at least 63 Texas medical school graduates will have to leave the state to complete their training. By 2016, this number triples. With them leaves the state’s investment of $30.2 million in their medical education, and chances diminish that they will set up practice in Texas.
Building on the investment in GME made by the 83rd Legislature, lawmakers this session appropriated $53 million over the biennium for new physician residency slots to achieve a ratio of one medical school graduate to 1.1 residency slots. Lawmakers also created a permanent GME account in the state treasury and provided $33 million for the physician education loan repayment program to improve access to care in health professional shortage areas and for public program enrollees. Lawmakers also continued funding to address the shortage of nurses in the state, appropriating almost $34 million over the biennium for the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program and continuing through 2019 the allocation of $10 million in tobacco earnings for nursing school innovation grants.
THA will work with the THECB and the physician community to cohost a GME forum to communicate to member hospitals the upcoming opportunities for the expansion of GME first-year residency slots.