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UH College of Medicine awarded $2 million, focuses on primary care

College of Medicine

The UH College of Medicine is expected to open its new building for instruction in 2022. | Courtesy of UH

The newly established College of Medicine at UH has recently received a one-million-dollar donation from the M.D. Anderson Foundation. The gift was matched one-to-one by an anonymous donor to create a two-million-dollar endowment. 

The College of Medicine first received approval for the establishment from the Board of Regents in late 2017. Now in July 2020, it will begin to welcome and admit the first class. It will receive full accreditation by January 2024.

“It’s been a very rewarding journey,” said College of Medicine Founding Dean Dr. Stephen Spann. “We say that our mission is that we are socially accountable.”

Spann said through this establishment, he hopes to improve the health and healthcare of low-income communities with a focus on the greater Houston. 

The pledge is dedicated to establishing the M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professorship in Medicine by specifically recruiting a leader in health care to join the College of Medicine faculty.

Furthermore, Spann notes the College of Medicine plans to focus on training a diverse group of students. It will be producing excellent physicians and compassionate doctors in order to lead to higher patient satisfaction and care, he said. 

“We are focused on training more primary care physicians,” Spann said. “We have a desperate need for more primary care doctors.”

By 2034 the shortage range for primary care physicians will be between 17,800 and 48,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

With a strong research mission to find innovative solutions for problems in health care, the new donation is specifically targeted for a professorship endowment. It will assist the college in launching the institute by recruiting a national investigator.

The College of Medicine has several distinguishing factors from other medical schools. For example, it plans to partner with geographic communities in order to work together to improve health care.

The training within the college is strongly focused on creating more primary care doctors. Students will have primary care outpatient clinic experience within the first weeks. Lastly, the learning environment is based on active and small group learning. 

While there was talk of creating a medical school in UH during the early 2000s, it was not until Renu Khator became UH president did the plans begin to move forwards.

Now, the College of Medicine will begin moving into a new building, recruiting distinguished and renowned faculty, setting up their clinical services, partnering with communities to work together, funding breakthrough research and preparing for the next class of 60 students. 

“It will help develop the institute for health innovation,” Spann said. “In turn, the focus of the institute is to develop innovative solutions to problems in health and healthcare including problems that affect low-income communities.”

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