Medical School

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Update: Among the speakers at today's dedication: UT-Austin President Bill Powers, Dell Medical School Dean Dr. Clay Johnston, and State Sen. Kirk Watson, who helped lead the push for the medical school.

“Make no mistake. Today isn’t just about three new buildings on our skyline," Sen. Watson said. "Our community will be different – healthier and stronger – thanks to this project we’re launching today."

Johnston said that the school's launch offers the chance to design everything from the ground up.

"We have a responsibility to take advantage of our newness, to test out different ways of doing things that could become models for the rest of the country."

Larry D. Moore, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nv8200p

You may want to take a drive along Red River Street this weekend: it’s your last chance before the street is realigned to make way for UT-Austin's new Dell Medical School.

Starting Monday, Red River Street will be closed from Martin Luther King Boulevard to 15th Street – and it’s not scheduled to re-open until January.

KUT News

The Dell Medical School at UT Austin is scheduled to open for classes in 2016. The man leading the school to that opening is newly appointed dean, Dr. Clay Johnston.

Johnston spoke with Texas Standard host David Brown about what needs to happen before classes begin – and more importantly, how the new medical school will break the mold for student education and patient care.

"We can't treat this as our one opportunity to change things," Johnston says. "The reality is that academia – at least in medicine – moves very, very slowly. So we want to create the structures, the culture, that allow us to continually move, to be nimble and move forward."

KUT News

The Dell Medical School has a dean.

Ending a months-long search, UT President Bill Powers announced this morning that Dr. S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston has been named inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Dr. Johnston, a neurologist who currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of California, San Francisco, says that he is excited to have the rare opportunity to build a medical school from the ground-up.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

When the University of Texas’ new Dell Medical School opens its doors in 2016, it will be the first new medical school at a leading research university in over fifty years. And its creation offers significant possibilities for doctors, educators and public health advocates. 

“We see this as an exciting opportunity to rethink medical education from the ground up,” says New York University professor Helena Hansen, one of the participants at this week’s conference on racial and ethnic health disparities. “Because you’re starting a program from scratch here in Austin, you can think very big.” 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. takes on another role this October: chairman of the elite Association of American Universities, a prominent pedestal from which to shape the national conversation about higher education. 

Austin just might have heard a sneak preview of where he plans to go with that discussion, through his annual State of the University address delivered last week.

flickr.com/ejmc

Launching a new medical school is a major undertaking. But launching the University of Texas’ new medical school – in tandem with a new model of treating the sick and preventing illness – is even bigger.

When Austin voters approved Proposition 1 last year, increasing the property tax collected by Central Health, the measure was commonly referred to as the medical school initiative. But instead of financing the building of a medical school, taxpayer dollars are going toward a new medical program aiding the uninsured and under-insured. And yes, UT’s Dell Medical School is a part of that.

flickr.com/bigbirdz

Calling all big shots: University of Texas administrators have begun the search for the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, hoping to fill the office by early next year.

UT released a 21-page document Monday detailing the necessary qualifications for applicants. The document describes the ideal candidate as an inspiring “leader among leaders,” comfortable with serving in the public eye and representing the school to local media and community leaders.

University of Texas

The first University of Texas medical student class could be here as early as fall 2016. The UT Board of Regents unanimously approved plans for the school at a meeting earlier today.

Though construction has not begun, UT President Bill Powers says he’s hopeful that the school will be ready by 2016 and the teaching hospital by 2017. Until then, UT has a laundry list of things to do. 

University of Texas

Update: The full University of Texas System Board of Regents has voted to move forward with a plan for the future of its flagship campus – including the medical school. The plan passed without discussion. 

Update (May 8, 11:51 a.m.): A committee of the UT System Board of Regents approved an update to the university's master plan, including plans for UT's medical school, new teaching buildings and more. The plan could eventually move the Frank Erwin Center.

Liang Shi, KUT News

Eighteen people will make up a search committee for the University of Texas at Austin's Dell Medical School's founding dean.

Like most search committees, the one for the inaugural medical school dean is composed of local deans at UT, professors and students. This search committee also has deans from other universities in the UT System and members from Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health, who are partners in the new medical school initiative.

Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers told the UT Board of Regents on Wednesday that his school is ready to begin searching for a medical school dean.

A UT-Austin medical school, expected to open in either 2015 or 2016, is beginning to get off the ground. In May, the Board of Regents pledged $30 million per year for the next eight years. In November, Travis County voters approved Proposition 1, which will contribute about $25 million annually to the school. And more recently, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation pledged $50 million to the school.

Bobby Blanchard / KUT News

In a move state rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, equated to taking lemons and making lemonade, some members of the Texas House, Senate and UT System Board of Regents are hoping to combine UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into a single university that touches all major metropolitan areas of the Rio Grande Valley.

Michael Thomas/AP Images for Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation announced a ten year commitment to turn Austin in a center of health care excellence. The foundation is donating $50 million to the University of Texas’s new medical school. It will be called the Dell Medical School.

The foundation also pledged $10 million to Austin and Travis County community health quality and access programs over the next decade.

Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

Despite its glowing reputation, Austin has faced a gap when compared with other major metropolitan areas: the lack of a medical school and the cutting-edge research it can provide.

But that gap appears to be closing after Travis County voters approved a five-cent property tax hike this month to help finance a plan to overhaul the region’s approach to health care — including the construction of a research-intensive medical school that will be affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.

Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Travis County voters passed Central Health Proposition 1 this week, which increases property taxes to help bring a medical school to Austin.

But a group of citizens is trying to stop the vote from being certified or canvassed.

A lawsuit filed by the Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) says the ballot language of Prop 1 was misleading and made promises that the health care district is not legally able to fulfill.

“We want a federal judge to agree with us that the misleading and illegal ballot language contributed to the victory of Prop 1 at the polls. So the point being, if they had told the truth, we thing the voting outcome would have been different,” Don Zimmerman, TCTU Treasurer, says.

Good morning. That dense fog advisory is still in effect, so stay safe on the roads. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Nonprofits that help people in Austin get into housing are scrambling to come up with a plan B after Tuesday’s election. They were expecting Austinites to pass Proposition 15, which called for $78 million to build affordable homes and maintain existing ones. They never expected it to fail at the polls.”

“Austin’s form of government will never be the same. Voters have approved sweeping changes to way Austinites will vote in the future and who will represent them at City Hall. It all comes down to single-member districts, but it will be a long road from election night to a 10-1 City Council.

A citizens’ commission will draw the district boundaries. And that commission will get to work quickly. Prop 3 calls for the city auditor to start looking for volunteers next month, with an eye toward elections in November 2014.”

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Now that Proposition 1 has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.

UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update (Nov. 7, 6 a.m.): The final tally shows Central Health's Proposition 1 passed 54.67 percent (186,128 votes) to 45.33 percent (154,308).

Original Story (Nov. 7, 12:12 a.m.): It looks like Austin is getting a medical school.

As of this writing, Central Health’s Prop 1 is ahead 54 percent (176,755 votes) to 46 percent (148,375). Numbers like that were enough for Prop 1 supporters to declare victory at the Driskill Hotel earlier this evening.

As part of Prop 1, the University of Texas has pledged upwards of $25 million annually for a medical school, while Seton Hospital has announced it will build a $250 million “teaching hospital” to replace the aging University Medical Center Brackenridge.

“Almost immediately, you will start seeing an effort to recruit a dean of a medical school,” State Sen. Kirk Watson tells KUT News. 

Credit Phalin Ooi, flickr.com/phalinn

While advocates of a proposed medical school in Austin claim that the region faces a looming doctor shortage, a recent study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio seemingly argues otherwise.

The San Antonio study, led by surgeon Ronald M. Stewart, M.D., examined changes in the number of physicians throughout the state of Texas, compared with changes in the general population, in the years after Texas lawmakers limited medical liability claims in 2003.

The study found that the number of physicians practicing in Texas grew by 44 percent since 2003, which is more than double the state's 21 percent overall population growth.

In the Austin-Round Rock region, Stewart's report found that the number of physicians per 100,000 people grew from 178 to 216 from 2002 to 2012.

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