Two new med schools


Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 31, 2006 at 10:13 p.m.
Last week, the Board of Governors considered an issue of great importance to the university system and to the citizens of Florida - the question of how to provide a level of medical education that best meets the needs of this state.
After almost three years of careful deliberation and study, the members of the Board of Governors approved a comprehensive plan to enhance medical education. This plan includes expanding enrollments at existing medical schools and creating new medical residencies.
Ultimately, however, the decision came down to this - Florida's doctor shortage is real and long-lasting, and Florida's reliance upon importation of physicians puts the state in a vulnerable position. It will take more than creating additional residencies and expanding existing medical schools to solve this problem. Florida needs more medical schools.
President John Hitt, of the University of Central Florida, and President Modesto Maidique, of Florida International University, made a strong and winning case for establishing medical schools at their institutions. They provided convincing evidence that Florida is in the midst of a doctor shortage and that to correct the imbalance the state must expand its medical education. The Board of Governors agrees.
Anyone who has tried to make a doctor's appointment or has spent hours in a waiting room knows all too well that Florida needs more physicians. It is in the best interest of the citizens of this state for Florida to educate enough doctors on its own, not continue to rely on universities elsewhere to fill the breach.
Florida is a fast-growing and dynamic state, and it must always look ahead - it must anticipate change and prepare for the future. With this important vote, the Board of Governors anticipated a problem that threatens our state - a continuing shortage of doctors - and took action to ensure the future of medical care. As Board of Governors member Charles Edwards put it during the debate, "We are acting, not reacting, on a critical issue facing Florida."
Now the issue rests with the Legislature. I believe lawmakers will understand that the Board of Governors' comprehensive medical-education plan addresses the needs of this state, and I look forward to working with them in a productive partnership. I am hopeful they will appropriately fund our three existing colleges of medicine and fund these two new medical schools while continuing to meet other needs of the State University System.
Carolyn King Roberts of Ocala is chair of the Board of Governors, the constitutional body created by voters in 2002 to guide the State University System of Florida.

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