The University of Houston’s proposal to create a medical school comes up for state regulatory approval this week and the institution is trotting out a new video to help make the case.
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and the heads of the Texas Medical Center and the Greater Houston Partnership join UH President Renu Khator and UH College of Medicine Founding Dean Stephen Spann in the video, touting the public university as the logical institution to address the shortage of primary-care doctors in Texas and the Houston area.
“I think everybody agrees in Houston there is a gap,” Khator says in the video. “Who’s going to step up and fill that gap? We are the largest public university in Houston. We will need to have a medical school.”
William McKeon, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, adds that Houston has “plenty of specialists, some of the top in the world. But really to be able to have a program focused on primary care to really teach that broad base net that we need to support our community is essential.”
UH will promote the video on university websites and social media, but not through paid advertising, said a spokesman. It will send the video to contacts in the Texas Legislature and Texas Higher Education Coordinating, as well as use it in fund-raising efforts.
In the video, Spann lays out the need, such as that Texas ranks 47th out of 50 states in the ratio of primary-care doctors per person. He adds that geographic areas surrounding the TMC have “major health disparities and health indices that are in some places similar to those of Third World countries.”
The video does not feature leaders from either Baylor College of Medicine or McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, both of which are solid producers of primary-care doctors. But McKeon says the institutions he represents see the proposed UH school “as extremely complementary to the existing hospitals and medical schools that exist today.”
Approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is one of three hurdles the proposed UH medical school must surmount. The others are accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and a commitment from the Texas Legislature for $40 million in funding over 10 years.
The Coordinating Board is scheduled to review the proposal at its quarterly meeting Thursday. UH plans to submit its accreditation application in early December, which could result in a liaison committee site visit next summer and approval as soon as next October, according to a UH spokesman.
UH hopes to admit its first class of students in fall 2020.
Todd Ackerman covers medicine for the Houston Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ChronMed.