UPDATE: TCU, UNTHSC to collaborate on medical school

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Texas Christian University will partner with the University of North Texas Health Science Center to build an M.D. school, according to sources familiar with the project.

The two schools were to announce the plan Monday during a 2 p.m. news conference at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth. TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. and UNTHSC President Michael R. Williams were scheduled to make the announcement.

Sources told Fort Worth Business last week that with TCU involved, plans for the school could move much faster without having to wait on state funding.  TCU has the funding for the project lined up, according to sources.

The Board of Trustees for the UNT Health Science Center is meeting on Monday and is expected to vote on the plan.

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In a statement in response to questions about the plan, the UNT Health Science Center said: “A longstanding practice of UNT Health Science Center has been to establish relationships with other educational and medical institutions to benefit the community. We continue to explore options in medicine, education and research that will help us find solutions for the growing health concerns of our state.”

TCU also released a statement in response to questions about the potential collaboration: “Texas Christian University has enjoyed a long history of collaboration with the other educational institutions, and we’ve seen many positive results from these projects. We look forward to any opportunity to further explore potential partnerships that benefit our students, institutions and community.”

UNT Health Science Center officials have been pursuing an additional medical school for several years, a controversial plan that has upset many of the osteopathic physicians who graduated from the school. During the 2011 session of the Texas Legislature, the school and area officials pursued funding for a medical school but faced opposition from several osteopathic groups as well as a lean state budget. At the time, school officials said setting up a medical school would cost about $20 million.

During this year’s legislative session, UNT Health Science Center did not pursue funding for a medical school as it had in the past, but it did receive approval to raise bonds worth $80 million for an interdisciplinary research building on campus. This year the UNT Health Science Center graduated 222 D.O. students. 

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According to information on TCU’s Admissions website, more than 2,000 Horned Frog physicians, dentists and veterinarians have gone through the pre-health program at the private Fort Worth school since 1913. TCU’s acceptance rate into health professions schools is historically high, according to TCU, with the medical school acceptance rate about 1.5 to 2 times the national average.

There are approximately 800,000 practicing physicians in the U.S. today and about 50,000 are D.O.s, who practice osteopathic medicine, while the rest are M.D.s who practice allopathic medicine.

TCU and the UNT Health Science Center have collaborated before. UNTHSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Health Professions has partnered with TCU’s Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Department of Nutritional Sciences, to improve the ability of physicians to work in teams among health care disciplines.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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