March 15, 2007
There’s little debate that Texas needs more places to train doctors and nurses. The Code Red Report – an exhaustive and enlightening study of the state’s health care issues that was published by the UT System – lists this shortage of schools as one of our state’s primary healthcare challenges.
But Texas is big enough that its undeniable statewide healthcare needs can evaporate in the heat of inter-regional economic development politics. And, no doubt, new medical facilities will be a tremendous boon wherever they end up. What the state doesn’t have is an unvarnished look at what Texans truly need and where they need it.
Senate Bill 1919 would have created a commission to study how medical education resources have been allocated and distributed across Texas – and how much more we need to be doing. This bill was amended onto another one during the legislative session in 2007, but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
The commission would have consisted of appointees from each of the state’s major medical programs – the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System, the Texas Tech University System, the University of North Texas System, and the Baylor College of Medicine. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board also would have appointed members.
This distinguished group would have studied where and how the state has deployed its medical education resources. But it also would have attempted to nail down the need for a new medical school and other academic health programs, as well as the cost of creating them. And it would have tried to quantify the value of tying a medical school to a top-tier academic campus and studied the capacity of state institutions to take on a medical school or graduate medical education programs.
Texas needs something like this commission to remove the critical question of medical training from the unhealthy politics that keep us from answering it. We know that Texas needs to train more doctors and nurses, both for its people and its economy. It’s well past time that we got started.