TCU, UNT Health Science Center partner on new MD school

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    Chancellor Victor Boschini and officials from the University of North Texas Health Science Center announced plans for a $75 million medical school that is expected to enroll its inaugural class in 2018 with TCU grads guaranteed to make up one third of the students.

    The “collaboration,” which marks the creation of DFW’s third medical school, was announced Monday at a press conference at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth.

    “With our world class faculty and students, combined with the world class faculty and staff at UNT Health Science Center, this is going to be a hit way out of the ballpark,” Boschini said.

    The TCU Board of Trustees approved the plan June 30, while the UNT Board of Regents approved it this afternoon. 

    The inaugural class will have 60 students. Some 240 students are expected to be enrolled by 2021-22.

    Fort Worth is the largest city in Texas without an M.D. school. The University of Texas at Austin will begin accepting applications for the inaugural class of the Dell Medical School in the fall.

    Monday’s announcement was made before an invitation only crowd that included Ed Bass, TCU Board of Trustees chairman Clarence Scharbauer, and other Fort Worth leaders.

    There is an acute need for physicians brought on by the nation’s aging population and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

    The group predicts that by 2025 total physician demand will increase up to 17 percent. The AAMC expects the demand for doctors to exceed the number of physicians by a range of 46,000 to 90,000.

    Texas ranks 5th out of the top 10 states with the lowest physician-to-resident ratios, according to data compiled by the Advisory Board Company. Only Idaho, Utah, Arkansas and Mississippi have lower ratios.

    In making the announcement, officials acknowledged the growing need and the importance of curbing it.

    “Peter Druckner, father of American business once said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it’,” said Michael Williams, president of UNTHSC. “And that’s what we’re here today to do.”

    While, UT-Austin’s Dell Medical relied on a mix of public and private dollars, including money from Travis County taxpayers, TCU and UNTHSC officials said this effort will be met with money from the universities and private donors.

    TCU has pledged $50 million from its endowment, while UNTHSC is expected to  contribute $25 million to cover startup costs.

    The new medical school will be the second in DFW to offer a doctor of medicine degree. It will face accreditation by multiple organizations, including the Liason Committee on Medical Education.

    Officials said the cultures of the two instutitions – a health science center and a liberal arts-focused university – would create “ethical and principled leaders who are patient focused.”  

    “Blending a medical education with liberal arts helps shape tomorrow’s physicians as ethical leaders who are skilled in interpersonal communication and nimble thinkers who thrive as part of a team to treat patients in ways that consider the whole human condition,” Boschini said.

    According to a press release, the school’s focus will be “a team-oriented educational approach that benefits patients and shapes the future practice and business of medicine.”

    TCU and UNT have a history of collaboration.

    “We have a number of other health disciplines already at TCU and UNT Health Science Center. We’ve been working with those other disciplines for over three years,” said Susan Weeks, dean of the Harris College of Nursing. “This is a natural progression of that existing collaboration we’ve had in place.”

    The new school will be “managed, branded and supported jointly” by both academic institutions.

    Some classes are expected to be offered at TCU, but the majority would be taught at UNTHSC. There are no plans for construction of any new facilities.

    Both universities will select a dean, who will then report to provosts at both schools. That person would ultimately be responsible for faculty hires and curriculum development.

    The new school does not yet have a name, but in the meantime it will include both TCU and UNTHSC.

    Initially, diplomas will only bear TCU’s name — not UNTHSC. In 1993, legislation sponsored by then-state Sen. Mike Moncrief barred UNTHSC from awarding MD degrees. Williams hopes that will change in the 2017 legislative session, just in time for the medical school’s first class the following year.