Now that the College of Medicine newsletter is back from a summer hiatus, I have several items of interest to catch up on and share with you.
The most notable perhaps was Gov. Greg Abbot’s visit to our campus last month to sign House Bill 826, the legislation that formally established our medical school. Actually, the governor was ceremonially re-signing the bill since this had already been enacted earlier during the legislative session. His decision to come to UH was a clear signal of his unqualified backing for our efforts – and his being joined at this campus event by the both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen certainly added to the overall display of support and encouragement.
Praising the leadership of both UH President Renu Khator and UH System Board of Regents Chair Tilman Fertitta, the governor said, “You made it clear why this vision for a medical school was important not only to UH but also to the community, about the unique challenges that we have in health care with an inadequate number of primary care physicians to take care of the patients and the special focus UH will have in helping address the growing demands of medical care in our state.”
That’s an excellent description of our mission and a gratifying indication that the governor understands it.
Equally exciting was the opportunity to unveil the architectural renderings for the state of the art building we will be constructing on a 43-acre tract of undeveloped land across from MacGregor Park and adjacent to the University. Its proximity will allow us to connect to our other on-campus resources and develop this into a wide-ranging Life Sciences Complex over the years. And, by locating the medical school in our Third Ward neighborhood, we underscore our objective of improving health and healthcare in underserved communities.
If you would like more information about the governor’s bill-signing event and the renderings, please go to First Look, Big Step. If you would like to watch the event, here is a video.
GAINING APPROVAL -- I’m pleased to report that we have recently received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer our Doctor of Medicine degree. This continues a long but necessary sequence of procedures, evaluations and assessments required for us to open the medical school – an understandably demanding process, but one that UH has handled successfully thus far. Next up will be a review for preliminary accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS – One of the significant challenges facing new medical schools in Texas is the requirement to create viable residency programs that will increase the number of first-year residency slots available in the state. We are fortunate that HCA Houston Healthcare has agreed to partner with us to do that.
Together, we launched the program this summer with an inaugural group of 39 residents receiving their traditional white lab coats during an inspirational ceremony held here at UH. Looking ahead, our HCA Houston Healthcare/UH College of Medicine residency program will bring 155 resident positions to Houston by 2020 with plans for 460 total resident positions by 2025. When you consider that two-thirds of all medical residents remain in the communities where they complete their graduate medical education, the importance of establishing this residency program in Houston is immense.
NOW HEAR THIS – We are continuing our popular radio series “Health Matters” on KUHF News 88.7 through the end of the year. Our latest batch of episodes provides practical health care information on important topics including food insecurity, loneliness and signs of opioid addiction. The segments air routinely throughout the week, but you can access them anytime online.
We appreciate your interest and support. For more information about the UH College of Medicine, please visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs