The University of Houston College of Medicine has received an anonymous $3 million gift, which will fund the full tuition for the college’s inaugural class of 30 medical students.
The College of Medicine aims for at least 50 percent of each graduating class to specialize in primary care. This distinction sets the college apart from its local and national counterparts in an effort to address the vast shortage of primary care physicians in Houston and throughout Texas. Texas ranks 47th out of 50 states in primary care physician-to-population ratio.
“Student debt is the number one deterrent for students when applying to medical school,” said Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston. “This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend and ultimately lead the future medical workforce. As a result, the UH College of Medicine will increase access to primary care, enhance quality of life and strengthen Houston as a business destination.”
“The UH College of Medicine wants to be known nationally for producing doctors who have a deep understanding of health disparities, who know how to work in the community and who are experts in providing ‘high-value’ health care,” said UH College of Medicine vice president of medical affairs and founding dean Dr. Stephen J. Spann. “Thanks to this amazing gift, we’re one step closer to becoming a major resource for the community by addressing the shortage of primary care physicians.”
The gift also goes toward the $1 billion “Here, We Go” Campaign, the University’s first public, comprehensive campaign in 25 years. Contributing to a healthy Houston is one of President Khator’s top institutional priorities. The University aims to secure $120 million over 10 years to cover startup costs for the College of Medicine. A third of these funds will be generated through philanthropy, a third from state appropriations and a third from intellectual property revenue. So far, UH has raised $9.1 million through philanthropy.
“These early contributions to the College of Medicine are a crucial endorsement of the vision and the need for our College of Medicine,” said Eloise Brice, vice president for university advancement. “I’m very encouraged by the generosity of our donors in response to the need for primary care in our community.”
The University is finalizing a partnership with HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division to bring new first-year resident positions to the College of Medicine starting in 2019, reaching a total of 389 resident positions by 2025.
The College of Medicine joins the University as its 15th academic college with a mission to address shortages of physicians in primary care and other specialties such as general surgery and psychiatry to improve health in communities with healthcare disparities. It is scheduled to admit thirty students in the inaugural class pending approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Legislature, and accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.