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Education for health care professionals continues in the Corpus Christi/Coastal Bend area (10/12/98)

Funding appropriated by the Texas Legislature assures continued education and clinical training this year for students and health care professionals in the Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend areas, according to officials with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

"We wish to thank Senator Carlos Truan and his House colleagues, whose leadership will help these the South Texas/Border Region Health Educational Initiative programs continue," said John P. Howe, III, MD, president of the Health Science Center. "It's very exciting to see the expansion of established educational programs in Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend."

In 1995, with local educators and health professionals, the Health Science Center began new regional health educational programs as part of the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative, a legislative project to enhance training in the region for students interested in health careers. The project also has similar programs in the Lower and Mid-Rio Grande Valley. More than $15.5 million was appropriated by the Legislature last year to support the programs over a two-year period.

Funding has been provided through the year 2000 to plan a new master's program in physical therapy at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and continuation of the following established programs:

  • a one-year residency in clinical and community nutrition to meet the needs of dietitians and nutritionists through an internship program at Texas A&M-Kingsville; and

  • the Coastal Bend Initiative for Professional Education in Elderly Nutrition, Nursing and Health Promotion (PEP-ENN). This is a multi-component, collaborative effort in curriculum development, research studies and clinical training. Based at the Geriatrics Clinic in Corpus Christi, the program involves Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, Columbia Bay Area Medical Center and the Health Science Center.

A large share of the regional appropriated funds assures continued training in family practice for third- and fourth-year medical students, residents and others at Spohn Memorial Hospital and the Nueces County Medical Education Foundation. Support for the family practice residency program at the Bay Area Medical Center also will continue. The Coastal Bend has fewer primary care physicians per capita than the state and national average, and these important programs are widely recognized for attracting new physicians to practice in local communities.

A clinical training program for family and pediatric nurse practitioners and medical residents at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Driscoll Children's Hospital, Spohn Memorial Hospital and the Health Science Center's pediatrics department was concluded in August 1998.

Support continues for the nursing program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which will address the critical need for doctoral nursing students. Support also is ongoing for the Coastal Bend Distance Education Program which supports the local distance learning network between Del Mar College, Bee County College and the Nueces County Medical Foundation.

Region wide programs include Library Access Services, a library electronic network for students, faculty, residents and practitioners, and the South Texas Distance Learning and Telehealth Network, a telecommunications network supporting training programs.

Funding continues to the South Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC), based in San Antonio, to coordinate and manage the above programs, and to the South Coastal AHEC, based in Corpus Christi, to coordinate housing for students receiving clinical training at remote sites and to manage local health education projects.

Funding continues for the Center for Health Economics and Policy at the Health Science Center to evaluate programs of the South Texas Border Health Education Initiative.

An advisory committee composed of local health educators and practitioners from Corpus Christi/Coastal Bend colleges, universities and health-care organizations, in collaboration with the Health Science Center, reviews program needs and recommends budget levels. Additional programs with demonstrated potential are being discussed for possible funding in the future.

Note: For additional information, contact Dr. Diana Marinez, dean of the College of Science and Technology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 512-994-2350.