(AUSTIN, TX) — More than 100 medical students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine converged on the state capitol April 3 to participate in the Texas Medical Association’s First Tuesdays event.

First Tuesdays are days in which physicians and medical students join together to express their concerns and opinions on health policy issues and medical education funding to legislators.

Recently named the TMA Chapter of the Year, the HSC-COM chapter continued its strong support of the association with more than 100 medical students in attendance – 50 percent of the total students represented from Texas medical schools. They rallied at the news conference for the Child Health Insurance Program bill that passed in the Texas House of Representatives and will increase funding for uninsured children.

Afterward, the medical students met with Texas representatives and senators to discuss graduate medical education funding, which funds residency positions within the state.

Texas faces a physician shortage, and legislators recognize the need to increase medical student slots, along with more residency positions. Considerable increases in funding proposed by the House and Senate will allow more students to stay in Texas for training. Of those leaving Texas, 38 percent would have preferred to practice in state but were unable to due to a lack of positions, reports the TMA.

“The main point we expressed was that if they fund residency slots, we will stay in Texas,” said Ravi Kumar, HSC-COM TMA chapter president. “The majority of us want to stay and practice in Texas, but there aren’t enough residency spots for us all due to state funding inadequacies.”

Many studies have shown most physicians will start a practice near their residency location, so the loss of medical students has contributed to Texas’ current rank of 45th in the United States for physicians per population. According to the TMA, each medical student’s education costs the state $200,000, so Texas also loses a $27.4 million investment when future physicians leave the state.

At day’s end, the future physicians felt their voices had been heard and the problem could be resolved.

“Our state legislators were very receptive to our requests and suggestions on the issue of graduate medical funding,” Kumar said.

More information about First Tuesdays is available at www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=5211

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

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