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Board broaches idea of more med schools

The state Board of Governors had a workshop Thursday on whether there is a need for more doctors in Florida.

Florida International University plans to file a formal request next month seeking the board's approval to open a medical school, while trustees at the University of Central Florida have started examining a similar possibility.

Florida has public medical schools at the University of Florida, the University of South Florida and Florida State University. The University of Miami operates a private medical school.

Nova Southeastern University operates a private college of osteopathic medicine, and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine will open a branch in Bradenton this fall.

Dr. Robert Watson, senior associate dean for education affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said that with the state's aging population and the aging of its physicians, "Florida will need additional future physicians."

But, he said, new medical schools may not be the best way to increase the physician supply.

He said a more efficient way would be to increase the number of students in current schools.

He added that the best predictor of whether medical students will stay in Florida is whether they perform their residency in the state.

About 55 percent of Florida medical students go out of state to do that, Watson said.

Steve Uhlfelder, a board member, said he thought it was inappropriate to be discussing future medical schools.

"I've heard all I want to hear about medical school education," Uhlfelder said.

The board plans to conduct another session on the subject in February.

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