Another medical school planned in Texas; more for-profits come to U.S.

The University of Houston System has voted to create a medical school it says will address the shortage of primary care physicians.

The system’s board of regents voted unanimously to approve a college of medicine at the university's flagship campus that focuses on educating primary care doctors to practice in underserved urban and rural communities in Houston and other locations in Texas. If approved,  the university said the medical school would admit its first class in 2020.

The university will need to secure funding from the Texas legislature and approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer medical degrees.

As a way to address state lawmakers’ concerns that Texas doesn’t have enough medical residency slots to support a growing number of medical schools in the state, the university plans to finalize a partnership with the Hospital Corporation of America’s Gulf Coast division to bring 103 first-year resident positions to the Houston area by 2020 and expand to 309 positions by 2024. State leaders want to see more residencies so that graduates from Texas medical schools don’t have to leave the state to complete their training and possibly not return to practice there.

A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges released earlier this year showed a projected shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.

And in other medical school news, students at the for-profit Ross University in the Caribbean country of Dominica will be temporarily relocated to Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tenn., after Hurricane Maria damaged the island campus, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Students from the for-profit medical school are currently housed on a cruise ship as its campus undergoes repairs from damage caused by the hurricane, but pending regulatory approvals will operate on the campus of the private, nonprofit Tennessee university for about a year.

While the relocation of Ross University is only temporary, since 2007 a small number of for-profit medical schools have begun operating in the U.S., the publication said. Some of the 70 for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean are graduating doctors to help solve shortages of primary care doctors.