COM: Top 10 in U.S. for family medicine

May 13, 2011

The American Academy of Family Medicine (AAFP) recently honored the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine with a Top Ten Award for the institution’s continued contributions toward addressing the nation’s family medicine physician shortage.

The TAMHSC-College of Medicine was the only medical school in Texas to receive the award.

“Family medicine doctors are the foundation of our primary care infrastructure here in Texas. They play a critical role in maintaining a healthy population in communities across our state. As the state’s population continues to grow and age, we remain committed to answering the call for additional family medicine physicians in Texas,” said Sam Shomaker, M.D., J.D., the Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of the TAMHSC-College of Medicine. “National recognition from AAFP acknowledges the importance of continuing to direct available resources toward educating the next generation of Texas primary care physicians.”

The award recognizes medical schools that have significantly contributed to the pipeline of family physicians by graduating the greatest percentage of students from 2008-2010 who choose to enter family medicine residency programs. Nationally, family medicine is experiencing a dire work force shortage, with the AAFP currently reporting 8.4 percent of U.S. medical school graduates opting to focus their residencies in this area. Of the TAMHSC-College of Medicine 229 graduates during the designated three-year period, 15.3 percent accepted family medicine residency positions.

“Texas is facing a serious physician shortage and as a result, many Texans, particularly those living in rural or border areas of the state, do not have adequate access to primary care services. Regular access to a primary care doctor has been shown to be the most effective means of keeping people healthy,” Dr. Shomaker said. “In response to the shortage of primary care doctors facing Texas the College plans to grow a statewide consortium of family medicine residency programs aimed at retaining more of our medical school graduates in Texas.”

This is the eighth year since the awards’ inception in 1995 that the TAMHSC-College of Medicine has been honored as an AAFP Top Ten Award school, due in part to the college’s multiple initiatives aimed at supporting students who are interested in family medicine. Those initiatives include student outreach in the form of pipeline programs, admissions policies targeting students from rural and underserved areas, specialized clinical rotations emphasizing hands-on experiences in family medicine, and targeted family medicine interest groups.

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