Board of Regents approves UT-Tyler medical school, first in Northeast Texas

Laura Morales

The UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved the establishment of a medical school at UT Health Science Center at Tyler on Thursday.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and other accrediting agencies will review the school’s degree plans and curriculum, health center president Kirk Calhoun said. It will be the first medical school in Northeast Texas and the seventh in the UT System, Calhoun said.

Calhoun said rural areas suffer from hospital closures, a lack of medical providers and a lack of mental health services. The school will partner with the nine hospitals in the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Calhoun said.

“We will provide primary care providers who are committed to working in the rural areas of our state,” Calhoun said. “The best way to get that is to train them in these rural areas and develop a commitment for that kind of service.”

Calhoun said the UT center will ask the state legislature in January 2021 for funding for the school. He said the UT center has received an $80 million gift from the East Texas Medical Center Foundation to help start the school and $95 million from the Permanent University Fund from the Board of Regents in their November 2019 meeting.

Calhoun said the medical school’s first class will have around 50 students. He also said the school will add 200 more residency slots at the East Texas Medical Center System.

UT System Chancellor James Milliken said this plays into the system’s effort to serve Texas health care needs.

“Northeast Texas has long depended on UT-Tyler and UT-Tyler Health Science Center,” Milliken said. “Today’s action represents one of the most important pieces of the strategy to serve the state of Texas and the northeastern part of the state.”