REPORT TO THE TEXAS OSTEOPATHIC MEDICALASSOCIATION ON DEVELOPMENT OF AN ALLOPATHICMEDICAL SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OFNORTH TEXAS HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER
At the request of the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association (TOMA), we have reviewedThe “Academic and Business Plan for the Development of a Proposed MD Program”(“the Plan”)
that the Regents of the University of North Texas (UNT) approved inOctober 2010 to develop a new school of allopathic medicine (UNTMD) in Fort Worth.This Plan was said to be in response to a growing perception that there is a looming crisisin the availability of physicians, particularly in primary care. In addition, and perhapsparadoxically in view of the primary care crisis, it is based on the idea that there would beadvantages, both for residency training programs now being developed by local hospitalsand for clinical practice in general, for there to be an expansion of allopathically trainedgraduates instead of a further increase in the number of osteopathic-trained graduatesthrough the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM). Allopathic graduates aremore likely to pursue residency training in one of the specialties of medicine, whileTCOM graduates have a greater orientation toward primary care. On review of the Plan, several issues have been recognized:
The shortage of physicians, both locally and nationally, will not be resolvedrapidly by training more medical students. A more immediate solution would beto develop additional graduate medical education (GME) positions, which iswhere the “bottleneck” in the training pipeline is most acute. This is especiallytrue in Texas, where there are more medical school graduates today than there areentry-level residency training positions, thus forcing Texas medical schoolgraduates to leave the state for residency training and reducing the likelihood thatthey will return to Texas for their medical careers. In addition, TCOM is a highlyregarded school, turning out students who acquit themselves well in osteopathicand allopathic residencies and on the licensing examinations and most of whomembark on careers in Texas.
The Plan’s program and timeline appear to have been given considerable thought,with attention paid to accreditation requirements and processes. However, itappears to us highly unlikely that a UNTMD program could bring all of the piecestogether to achieve accreditation and recruit and select students so that a first-yearclass could commence medical studies in 2013. For example, early recruitment of senior leadership is critical. Unless all are internal candidates, recruitment will betime-consuming, likely more than allowed in UNTMD’s aggressive timetable. If the senior leadership are internal candidates, however, their transfer to UNTMDwill impact the existing programs of UNTHSC and TCOM.