It’s been years in the making (and has hurdles yet to clear), but the University of North Texas Health Science Center is one step closer to offering both osteopathic (D.O.) and allopathic (M.D.) medical degrees.
We have state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to thank for that.
The two lawmakers are responsible for sponsoring and shepherding House Bill 1913 — which will undo the 1993 statute preventing UNTHSC from awarding M.D.’s — through the Legislature and to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. It was signed on May 29.
The law also allows the president of UNTHSC to be someone other than a doctor of osteopathic medicine, expanding the hiring pool for future presidents.
Most importantly, the law’s passage should go a long way toward addressing the local doctor shortage.
UNTHSC is the proud home of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, founded in 1970 and producing outstanding medical practitioners for decades.
Perhaps recognizing that Fort Worth is the largest city in the United States without a school that offers a M.D. degree, in 2009 UNT began seeking legislative approval to offer such a program.
But the school ran into a surprising amount of opposition, some of it coming from TCOM’s alumni.
There were concerns about the college losing its identity and fears about resources being siphoned away by a competing program.
Then there’s the outdated animosity between D.O.’s and M.D.’s, whose philosophies differ but are equally licensed to practice medicine.
Those worries seemed to subside after UNTHSC brokered a partnership in 2015 with neighboring Texas Christian University to open a new medical school in the heart of Fort Worth.
They had the plan and a substantial amount of the funding, but not the legislative approval to confer degrees with the name of both institutions.
Now they do.
“There is nothing wrong with having two medical schools in the same town,” said UNTHSC President Michael R. Williams after the schools announced their partnership almost two years ago.
We’re one step closer to that reality.