Drive to Solve Texas Doctor Shortage
Urgent care specialist Dr. David Miranda explores the state of Texas’ efforts to solve its ongoing shortage of qualified physicians.
With almost ten percent of Texas’ counties having just one licensed physician according to a recent report by the Texas Medical Board, doctor shortages are an issue which the state is looking to address as a priority, according to Dr. David Miranda, an urgent care physician based in San Antonio.
“Approximately another ten percent of Texas’ 254 counties only have two or three qualified doctors,” he reveals, “meaning that medically underserved communities pose a significant risk to public health in the state.”
Dr. David Miranda is not alone in his concerns. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges has ranked Texas 47th out of the 50 U.S. states in terms of adequate physician coverage in relation to population. According to the association’s reporting, more doctors are desperately required in rural areas, many of which are currently considered ‘medically deprived’ according to its findings.
“This is a particular concern of mine,” says Dr. David Miranda, who specializes in the care of medically underserved, often rural populations.
The so-called Lone Star State is currently working on the construction of more medical schools, although according to Dr. Miranda, this alone will not solve matters. “The matter cannot be solved simply by building more medical schools,” he says, “especially not in the short term.”
Dr. David Miranda Opens Up
By 2020, the University of Houston and Sam Houston State University both plan to have established their own medical schools. Already, the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin is open, as is the new University of Texas Rio Grande School of Medicine in Edinburg, plus the new University of the Incarnate School of Osteopathic Medicine in San Antonio.
“There’s also the Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth which have partnered and each plan to start teaching medicine next year,” adds Dr. Miranda.
A lack of medical schools, however, he says, is not necessarily the problem. “Physicians cannot practice until they’ve completed a residency,” the doctor explains, “and, right now, the state’s hospitals do not have sufficient slots for the residency requests which they’re already receiving.”
This lack of residency places, says Dr. Miranda, is driving students to undertake their medical education or complete their post-graduate training elsewhere in the country. “Often, that’s where they’ll then stay and start their career, even if they’re a native Texan,” he suggests.
What’s required, then, says Dr. David Miranda, is a review of the costs associated with—and funds allocated toward—the provision of residency slots in the state. “Budget-balancing in the ’90s has compounded issues surrounding the shortage of doctors in Texas ever since,” he adds, wrapping up, “and it’s now vital that the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act which has been left to languish since 2017 be reexamined and expedited as a priority if we’re to prevent matters further worsening.”