Despite Additional Dollars, Doctor Shortage Hard to Fix

The nation as a whole is facing a physician shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the United States will have a shortfall of 90,000 physicians within the next decade.

Texas lawmakers invested millions of additional dollars in the 2013 legislative session to address a looming physician shortage. Voters and university regents have rubber-stamped plans to open two new medical schools, in Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. But those moves have not placated the medical community, which remains concerned that Texas has no long-term solution to produce enough physicians, particularly in primary care, to support the surging population.

“Nobody wants to see this pendulum swing, where there’s money for this biennium and no money the next biennium,” said Dr. David Wright, chairman of the Texas Medical Association’s education committee. “There has to be a better, more stabilized funding mechanism for all of this.”

Texas taxpayers already spend $168,000 educating each of the state’s medical students. For graduated medical students, the state will pay $32.8 million to finance nearly 6,500 medical residency positions in 2014-15.

But beginning in 2014, there will be more graduating medical students in Texas than first-year residency slots available in the state, according to a 2012 report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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Source: Texas Tribune