Houston, TX (KTRK) — The Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine at the University of Houston wants to solve Texas’ drastic shortage of primary care physicians.
Experts say Lone Star State ranks 47th nationally in patient-to-family doctor ratio.
Dr. Stephen Spann of Tillman J. Fetitta Family College of Medicine said:
The school’s mission is uniquely focused on this issue, he said.
“We set out to develop a different kind of medical school with a different focus,” Spann said. “I want to train more primary care doctors.”
And for one student, the mission is personal.
“By treating people in the early stages of the disease, unfortunately, we can prevent some of the later complications, such as my father’s death, and my mother’s advanced oral cancer,” Breanna Shascher said.
A third-year medical student said that he had always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But being accepted into her first class of 30 students is what she calls a divine intervention.
“I want to be a doctor in the area. I’m from the Houston area. This is my hometown. I want to practice here,” Chachere said.
She said completing her third-year rotation at HCA Kingwood Hospital is full circle.
“When I was a first-year medical student, my father had a stroke and was actually treated here.
Sadly, she said he died of complications a few months later.
“He didn’t have a primary care doctor,” said Chasher, who is now an advocate for his mother. “[My mother]was diagnosed with oral cancer. She’s afraid of the dentist. She’s been to the dentist all her life.”
The entire first class received free tuition, thanks to an anonymous donation of $3 million.
They hope the donation will motivate students to practice primary care.
“I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to study medicine and that it was not a financial burden,” said Shaschere.
The university’s second mission is for students to practice in underserved communities, where studies show even less access to family medicine, Spann said.
“And there is evidence around the world that countries with better primary care have better outcomes and lower costs of care,” Spann said.
The first class is expected to graduate in May 2024, with at least half of the students expected to enter primary care.
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