While it is home to the Texas Medical Center, parts of Houston have significant health and healthcare disparities. These challenges would be insurmountable without primary care doctors, who are patients' first defense in preventing chronic diseases and identifying behavioral and mental health issues.
House Bill 826 by Rep. John Zerwas will establish a College of Medicine focused on preparing primary care doctors to practice in underserved urban and rural communities and building on interdisciplinary health research already underway at the University. The University of Houston is uniquely positioned to address the shortage of primary care physicians faced by Texas. UH has a mission and values focused on addressing economic, cultural and quality-of-life issues. It also has the capacity and scale necessary to take on such an ambitious program. UH is a comprehensive university with colleges and programs that will serve to support and nurture the launch of a new medical school.
Existing medical schools in the state and Houston region graduate medical students who are practicing in primary care consistently at a rate of less than 20%. HB 826 is modeled after other similarly designed medical schools who have similar rates of success (Florida State University, Florida International University, Illinois State University) with at least 50% of UH CoM graduates expected to practice in primary care.
At full staffing, the UH CoM will have 65 fulltime faculty teaching on campus plus a large number of community based faculty teaching in the outpatient and inpatient clinical settings. The plan is to recruit at a national level according to UH faculty hiring policies, seeking to recruit a diverse and highly-qualified faculty.
The progress to date shows the ability to be successful. To date, $35 million has been raised in support of the UH CoM, with a stated goal of raising at least $40 million before the end of the Texas Legislative session. This fall, it was announced a $15 million gift from Humana Healthcare as part of the total raised so far.