A major nonprofit Texas health system has collaborated with a Fort Worth medical school on the launch of a new physician residency program.
The partnership, through Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center Fort Worth and the TCU and University of North Texas Health Science School of Medicine was announced Wednesday morning. The program is expected to eventually train about 150 physicians annually, officials said.
“Our community is certainly at the center of what we do and it only makes sense that we would partner with the TCU and Health Science School of Medicine, another strong Fort Worth entity here,” said Michael Sanborn, president of Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center.
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The hope is to attract the best and brightest in medicine to Texas and to retain them, medical school dean Dr. Stuart Flynn said. Texas currently ranks 41st out of 50 states with 219.4 physicians per 100,000 residents, making it one of the worst shortages in the country.
The national median is 257.6, according to data from the American Association of Medical Colleges.
“60% of those who go to medical school in Texas will come back to Texas to practice, and they may done their residency here. If you do medical school and your residency here, 81% will stay here to practice in the state of Texas. That isn’t the same every place,” Flynn said. “We actually have graduates in medical school who cannot find residency training centers, so that’s bad for everybody. We need more physicians.”
Officials with the health system said federal regulations, cost, complexity and capped reimbursement often prevent new residency positions from being created. Over the past decade, student enrollment in Texas medical schools increased by 32%. In that same time period, residency and fellowship opportunities only increased by 19%.
This means 40% of new graduate physicians leave the state for training, according to officials with Baylor Scott & White.
Kassidy Fretz is a first-year medical student at TCU and UNTHSC. A mother of two and North Texas native, she said it would be important to her to practice in the area.
“Also, my husband is a police officer, so it’s really important for me to stay for his job,” Fretz said.
Fretz said she was considering specializing in OBGYN or general surgery, which are two areas the new residency program is expected to add in years to come. She said it was a program she would like to consider once she finished medical school.
“It means having to not uproot your family. It means being able to stay in the house, place you live in and it also means just keeping the support around you and also serving the people you grew up around,” she said.
This year, the program will begin to interview its first cohort of medical school graduates. Those selected will begin their residencies at Baylor Scott & White Fort Worth in July 2021 in areas of internal medicine and emergency medicine.
Like Fretz, first-year medical student Brandon Mallory also has some time before graduating. He has lived in the area for about 10 years with family in Keller.
"I could definitely see the benefits of continuing to stay close to home especially since we’re training here, we get to build those relationships," Mallory said. "Right now, we’re doing it as a medical students but we can do it as physicians. Our school is very interested in giving back to the community."
Officials expect to reach its peak of more than 150 residency positions in the 2027-2028 academic year.