HUNTSVILLE, TX --Sam Houston State University has reached a key milestone in the mission to support the state’s rural healthcare needs. On Tuesday, Aug. 14, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved SHSU’s doctorate in osteopathic medicine, bringing the university one step closer to helping millions living in rural and underserved areas of East Texas.
“After approximately four years of researching, analyzing and planning, this endorsement represents a major leap forward in helping to train doctors who will predominately practice in rural, underserved areas,” said SHSU President Dana Hoyt. “Sam Houston is one of the best-suited universities to address our state’s rural healthcare crisis.”
With the green light given by the THECB, the proposal will now go before the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) to be evaluated for the next step in the accreditation process.
With a ratio of one primary care physician for every 4,510 people, East Texans understand the impact of this critical shortage all too well and have voiced their endorsement of the proposed college. More than 20 state legislators and thousands of residents of East Texas expressed support for the university’s program.
Unlike other medical schools in the state, Sam Houston’s proposal requires no new state funding and will bring approximately $68 to $93 million annually in new federal funds to Texas. The proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine will collaborate with hospitals in rural East Texas counties to establish residency-training programs that will benefit the people living in those areas. To date, the proposed college has confirmed 20 affiliation agreements with 26 hospitals.
According to the site visit team, comprised of esteemed medical education professionals, who reviewed the proposal, “The proposed school has the potential to set new standards for addressing health care shortages among a patient population that is both rural and underserved and to define through research the relation of social determinants of health to optimal delivery systems.”
“I am humbled at the outpouring of support received from numerous state legislators, community leaders, medical associations, healthcare providers and thousands of Texans. Their confidence in our ability to deliver on our mission is inspiring,” Hoyt said.
SHSU’s history of contributing to the well-being of the state, started over 139 years ago, when the university was established to respond to the need for trained teachers. At the time, state leaders recognized that education was key to improving quality of life and the subsequent prosperity of Texas. Today, the university is responding to another critical workforce demand, where education, again, is key to elevating the quality of life for millions for our citizens.