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Analysis

Anonymous $3M Gift Funds Full Tuition for Entire Med School Class

By Steven Porter  
   July 19, 2018

The new program being launched by the University of Houston aims to bolster primary care to meet the state's demonstrated need.

If all goes according to plan, the University of Houston College of Medicine will enroll 30 medical students in fall 2020 and give each of them a full-tuition scholarship, thanks to an anonymous $3 million gift.

The university announced the gift Wednesday with a polished promotional video, touting the new college's emphasis on primary care. The university is still raising start-up funds for the project, which has yet to receive accreditation.

Related: L.A. Care Launches $31M Physician Recruiting Initiative

"This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend and ultimately lead the future medical workforce," University of Houston President Renu Khator said in a statement, citing student debt as the top deterrent students face when considering whether to attend medical school.

  • Primary care emphasis: The goal is for at least half of each graduating class to specialize in primary care to meet a need in the region, the university said. Among the 50 states, Texas ranks 47th in terms of its primary care physicians-to-patient ratio, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
     
  • Partnering with regional provider: The university said it is working with HCA Healthcare's Gulf Coast Division on a partnership for first-year resident positions to begin next year. The goal is to have 389 such positions by 2025. An HCA spokesperson could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.
     
  • Still seeking accreditation: The college says it is scheduled to admit 30 students for fall 2020, but that's contingent upon approval from state and federal policymakers. The college must be approved by the Texas legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and accreditation must come from the AAMC-sponsored Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
     
  • Still fundraising: The university said it aims to raise $120 million for the college's start-up costs over a decade, about $40 million from each of three sources: philanthropy, state funding, and intellectual property revenue. More than $9 million has been raised through philanthropy thus far, the university said.

Stephen J. Spann, MD, MBA, vice president of medical affairs and founding dean for the college, said the new institution aims to be known for producing doctors who understand health disparities and how to provide high-value healthcare.

"Thanks to this amazing gift," Spann said, "we're one step closer to becoming a major resource for the community by addressing the shortage of primary care physicians."

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: iStockphoto


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