GME Action in the Face of Cuts
As Texas medical schools graduate a record number of new physicians, funding cuts to graduate medical education (GME) imposed earlier this year as part of Texas’ overall budget cuts could cause some of those new doctors to head out of state for their residency training.
An article in the September 2011 edition of the Texas Medical Association’s Texas Medicine magazine reports that GME cuts could be so severe that some residency programs could shut down completely, thus causing medical school graduates to be virtually “exported” to other states.
The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine’s Edward J. Sherwood, M.D., Vice Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Life Long Learning, was featured in the article as was a mention of the College of Medicine’s Family Medicine Coalition.
Representatives from the Family Medicine Coalition, made of members of the College of Medicine’s affiliated Family Medicine Residency programs across the state, gathered in Austin on July 15 to plan for the future of GME in Texas and specifically family medicine graduate medical education.
As one of the College of Medicine’s strategic priorities, primary care–including family and rural medicine–is vital to the College of Medicine’s success in producing physicians for Texas.
Representatives included family medicine residency directors and residents from the College of Medicine in Bryan, Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Memorial Hermann in Sugar Land, CHRISTUS Spohn in Corpus Christi, and Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
“This coalition of family medicine residency directors will guide the evolution of family medicine training for the next generation of physicians,” said Dr. Sherwood. “Furthermore, it will serve as an example to our residency programs in other disciplines and allow us to meet the growing healthcare needs of Texas.”
Currently the College of Medicine maintains affiliations with 40 residency programs throughout Texas, including five family medicine residencies, which train more than 550 residents and fellows annually.
The group outlined the following steps for implementation in the coming months:
- Explore opportunities for affiliated program directors to help one another by sharing best practices, lessons learned, site visit experiences, etc.
- Determine the optimal future role of family physicians in an evolving healthcare system.
- Consider how to more effectively “market” family medicine to medical students.
- Determine whether, and if so, how family medicine training needs to change.
Ultimately, the Family Medicine Coalition hopes to promote the profession of family medicine as a means to improve graduate medical education in all areas, produce more doctors and answer the healthcare needs of Texas.