The University of Houston is set to open a new medical school, with the first enrollees expected in the fall of 2020. The university announced this week that the inaugural class is going to get a little help from an anonymous benefactor.
Thanks to a $3 million gift, the first students accepted into the new medical school will be attending tuition-free.
“Student debt is the number one deterrent for students when applying to medical school,” Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, said in a statement. “This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend and ultimately lead the future medical workforce.”
When the University of Houston decided to launch a new medical school, the institution had to push back against a perception that Texas already had more education institutions for budding physicians than its healthcare infrastructure could handle. With a relative dearth of residency opportunities in the state, Texas legislators worried major investments were going toward training valuable professionals who were destined to relocate.
The University of Houston is trying to sidestep this problem by focusing on the development of primary care physicians, a sector of healthcare in which Texas is drastically underpopulated. According to the university, Texas is 47th out of the 50 states in the ratio of primary care physicians to population.
“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’ healthcare,” Dr. Stephen J. Spann, UH College of Medicine vice president of medical affairs and founding dean, said in the university’s statement. “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 first class of the UH College of Medicine is expected to include 30 students.