Training Aggie Docs in Bevo's Backyard

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A $9 million appropriation from the Texas legislature will have future Aggie doctors studying medicine in Longhorn country.

Texas A&M Health Science Center's Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of Medicine Dr. Christopher Colenda says officials are proud to say state leaders want to see that happen.

"Members of the state legislature felt that it was an ideal place to have an A&M presence," Colenda said.

The money will be used to establish a clinical campus in the Austin suburb of Round Rock in Williamson County. At the beginning, the Health Science Center will not offer pre-clinical or basic science courses.

Instead, the campus will offer clinicals to third year medical students in the six core rotations. Those include medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine and psychiatry.

Fourth year medical students will be able to take electives in specialized medicine.

"We will develop a full spectrum of core clinical clerkships, as well as the opportunity for clinical electives in the fourth year," Colenda said.

Many in Austin -- in particular, officials with the University of Texas at Austin -- are taking notice of the Health Science Center's expansion because they have been culturing the idea of establishing a medical school of their own in Austin.

Colenda says should that happen, both medical schools will coexist by taking the example set by Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The schools are only seven miles apart.

"I think the Austin metroplex is certainly large enough for us to collaborate and to work together to bring high quality medical education and research clinical care to that area," Colenda said.

Health Science Center officials are planning to have the clinical campus open by this time next year. In the process, the institution will be a step closer to a long-term goal: "to really make a substantial foot print in Texas Medicine," Colenda said.