With a week until election day, UT-Austin President Bill Powers emphasizes the need to pass Prop 1, and the importance of a medical school for the University and the community.
For the second semester nursing students in burnt-orange scrubs, it looks like a normal day. Four students walk through a basic examination, checking vitals and speaking to the patient—a plastic dummy with blinking eyes—in a calm, reassuring voice. They’re not here for practice, however. They’re showing reporters what a student does at UT’s School of Nursing. The simulation room, filled with hospital beds and gaping-mouthed medical dummies, is the site of a press conference with President Powers and nursing school dean Alexa Stuifbergen.
Well into early voting, and a day after a comprehensive op-ed in the Austin American Statesman, Powers is telling the public how a medical school benefits all Central Texans, and how UT-Austin is uniquely equipped to do so—if voters pass Central Health Proposition 1.
Powers says his role is not to tell people how to vote, but to inform them of the facts. A sound business plan is the result of six years of careful planning, according to Powers. It’s a plan that will help alleviate a shortage in certain medical specialties in the region, bring together students across disciplines to enhance medical education, and help accelerate treatments from bench to bedside. Dean Stuifbergen echos the importance of research and training synergies, claiming that UT-Austin is alone among top nursing schools in that it is not housed on a larger medical campus.
A medical school, with its related teaching hospital and community clinics, is a part of the infrastructure of a region, like roads and energy, says Powers. He emphasizes the return on investment, keeping doctors in the area, helping ease the Texas doctor shortage, improving access to care for the uninsured and under-insured, and improving the quality of care for those who are insured. With only a few early voting days left and November 6 looming, Powers is making sure voters know that UT-Austin is prepared to improve healthcare for Texans and build a medical school. Prop 1 is the final piece of a funding system set up to create a viable sustainable medical school, he maintains. Powers can’t tell you how he wants you to vote, but he does want Austinites to know that Prop 1 isn’t just in UT’s interest; it’s in the community’s interest, too.
Editor’s Note: The Texas Exes board of directors supports the creation a medical school affiliated with UT-Austin and encourages alumni in Travis County to support Central Health Proposition 1.
Creative Commons photo via Knowsphotos on Flickr.