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SCR Regional Highlight: New Medical School in the Rio Grande Valley Will Help Address Physician Shortage

Posted by on October 18th, 2016


UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

UTRGV Family Medicine Center

The Rio Grande Valley, made up of four counties in the southernmost part of Texas along the border of Mexico, has the odds stacked against it when it comes to residents’ health. In Hidalgo County, one of those four counties, 40 percent of residents lack proper health insurance, 40 percent are considered obese, and 25 percent suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, most often found in adults, is being found more often in children in this area.

Luckily though, it looks like the Rio Grande Valley has a happy ending.

On June 27, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine opened its doors to its inaugural class. This first cohort contains 55 students—out of the more than 2,784 that applied. UTRGV is the first of its kind in the Valley, but the necessity it provides has been a long time coming.

In 2013, there were only 165 doctors per 100,000 people in Texas—much lower than the average of 240 doctors per 100,000 people in the U.S. as a whole. But in the Rio Grande Valley, that number was even smaller with only 124 doctors per 100,000 people. Number of doctors wasn’t the only shortcoming the Valley had; its average physician age was 57, decades above the median population age, and with older physicians, that would mean more retirements, and it would be likely the number of doctors would dwindle even further.

The inauguration of UTRGV is a fresh start for the Valley, who often lost many of its youngest, brightest minds to other medical schools without the thought of returning. The new medical school will bring new students in and keep students here to serve the population they also grew up in.

To read more about health in the Rio Grande Valley or UTRGV, please visit the following:

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