Texas A&M, DeTar training primary care doctors to treat underserved populations

Today, Texas A&M University System Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents Cliff Thomas, System Chancellor John Sharp and Chief Executive Officer of DeTar Healthcare System William R. Blanchard formalized the partnership between the Texas A&M Health Science Center and DeTar Healthcare System with the signing of an affiliation agreement to establish a Family Medicine Residency Program in Victoria. The partnership will address a critical need for primary care physicians in South Texas and will play a key role in the development of a comprehensive physician workforce solution for the state.

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“As a native of this area and a Former Student of Texas A&M University,this is an exciting day for me,” Thomas said. “This partnership will not only benefit the people of this region, but will have a long-term impact on our state.”

DeTar Healthcare System is a 304-bed two-hospital system that provides care for Victoria and its surrounding counties, a 5,200 square mile area and a population of 164,467. As part of the Region 5 Texas 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver, DeTar requested to establish a Family Medicine Residency Program in South Texas to serve this population, cited as Medicaid underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“At Texas A&M, we are driven by the duty to serve the people of this state, and that is why the A&M College of Medicine is forging this partnership, 150 miles from our headquarters, to address the need for more physicians,” Chancellor Sharp said. “We are proud to join with DeTar Healthcare System in helping to improve the health of Texans.”

The program also received a $150,000 planning grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, part of the $16 million appropriated to graduate medical education by the 83rd Texas Legislature.

“Understanding the critical need to grow our health care workforce across the state, we committed funding to expand the number of graduate medical education slots in Texas and increase access to physicians in underserved areas,” said State Representative Geanie Morrison. “I commend Texas A&M and DeTar Healthcare System for so swiftly responding to our call and establishing the framework to launch this much-needed program.”

Pending approval from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the three-year program will accept its first six residents in July 2015. 

“This is an exciting moment for the DeTar Healthcare System and our community,” Blanchard said. “Our leadership team is dedicated to the advancement of medical resources for patients. This graduate medical education program will support our ability to recruit and retain physicians to meet the healthcare needs of our community, now and in the future.”

Ultimately, there will be a total of 18 family medicine residents training at DeTar. The curriculum will encourage participants to continue practicing in the underserved area.

“At Texas A&M, we are instilling the next generation of physicians with a commitment to service, whether that means going into primary care or choosing to practice in a rural area,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “There is no doubt that the Family Medicine Residency Program in Victoria will serve as a direct line for producing primary care physicians to treat the people of South Texas and beyond.”

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