UNT Board of Regents approves MD degree program

The University of North Texas System Board of Regents today voted to approve a proposal to develop a new MD degree program at the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth (UNTHSC).  The MD program will be an independent fifth school in addition to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, and School of Health Professions.

Approval comes upon completion of pre-approval requirements the Board of Regents directed UNTHSC leadership to accomplish at the Regents’ November 2009 meeting. The requirements were to secure all necessary start-up funding from the community, establish a business plan for the new school, ensure commitments to secure a strong future for all existing programs, and confirm relationships with area hospitals for student rotations and graduate training.

Over the past two years, UNTHSC has conducted extensive fiscal and academic planning to determine how its existing infrastructure would optimally support two separately accredited medical programs at one location.  With this unique sharing opportunity, the business and academic plan estimated the start-up costs for starting the new MD program will total $21.5 million, well below what is normally estimated without existing infrastructure.

“This innovative private-public proposal is particularly important as the state responds to financial challenges by allowing the local community to provide all start-up funds for a new medical school as a method to address the growing physician shortages across the state,” said UNTHSC President Scott Ransom.

The Fort Worth health care, business and civic community has already pledged $25 million of financial support to cover the initial incremental and all start-up costs.  Written partnership agreements as well as substantial financial pledges were obtained with Texas Health Resources, Tarrant County Hospital District, Baylor Health System, HCA North Texas/Plaza Medical Center, and Cook Children’s Health System.

The only cost to the State of Texas will be the usual and appropriate costs associated with additional Texas medical students beginning in five years.

“There is a great deal of excitement about this opportunity in Fort Worth as a logical progression of the Health Science Center’s ongoing growth and success,” said UNTHSC Foundation Board member George Pepper. “The Fort Worth community has demonstrated tremendous commitment, which now allows us to take this proposal forward.”

UNTHSC will now begin discussions with members of the Texas Legislature regarding the state’s process for approval of the proposed MD school. For more information about the MD school’s process, visit the UNTHSC MD Study Web site.

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