But this one's controversial. After arguing for 40 years that its doctors -- D.O.'s -- are just as well-trained as allopaths -- M.D.'s -- the school is now considering offering a choice of either degree.
University President Dr. Scott Ransom made public this week what had been rumored for days: that the university is studying whether to offer both degrees and will report to the Board of Regents in May.
Texas osteopaths are already protesting, worried that the M.D. program might reduce opportunity for osteopathic students and dilute the school.
The Texas Osteopathic Medical Association's board passed plain-spoken motions last weekend: "Motion: That [TOMA] opposes the granting of an M.D. Degree by the University of North Texas Board of Regents. ... [and seeks] a task force to formulate an immediate course of action to address issues affecting the osteopathic integrity of UNTHSC/TCOM."
Update: State Sen. Royce West of Dallas said Thursday that the proposal will have "an uphill battle" in Austin, but that the state needs more doctors in all fields and "we should not wait until the need is critical."
Ransom's original announcement is after the turn:
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has
identified the need to expand medical school enrollments to support the health
care needs of Texas
To support these goals, the UNT System Board of Regents, the UNT System Chancellor, and I will sponsor a careful and complete evaluation of various proposals to create an MD degree option at the UNTHSC within an agreed framework of expectations.
We want to make the following points very
First, we are committed to operating, preserving and improving the osteopathic medical education program of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM). Any new degree option will build on and expand the already strong institutional tradition of training primary care physicians for the State of
Second, the evaluation of any MD
degree option would assume utilization of existing and currently planned
infrastructure, faculty and other resources to support a very cost-effective
means to expand the supply of physicians and better support the health care
needs of Texans. The goal is to develop any new degree option within current
enrollment growth plans so as not to require additional financial support from
the State of Texas
Third, there are many perspectives that must be considered in evaluating a new degree program. We will support a fully transparent process to engage all key and interested constituents, including alumni, employees, faculty, students, hospital and community leaders, professional societies, business interests and others. This issue has been presented initially to the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association, the TCOM Alumni Board and current TCOM leaders, as well as other faculty members, employees and students.
Fourth, the comprehensive study will evaluate the impact of any new degree program on critical institutional and community goals, including the impact on our vision of becoming a top-10 health science center as well as supporting improvements in education, research, clinical care, student and faculty recruitment and retention, economic development, community engagement and becoming a national leader in primary care.
A study group will be formed to oversee this evaluation of the benefits and liabilities of creating an MD degree option. This diverse group, comprising approximately 20 leaders, will oversee discussions with a variety of internal and external stakeholders over the next three to four months. The group will assure that all major issues are evaluated and documented in a report to be presented to the UNT System Board of Regents no later than May 2009. The Board of Regents will not be asked to consider this report and any recommendations it may include prior to its August 2009 meeting.
Scott B. Ransom, DO, MBA, MPH