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Stiff competition

For the reason that the UT Medical School has added seats in latest years, registration will remain steady for the next few years, said Dr. Judianne Kellaway, assistant dean of admissions. However, the number of applicants, which already has outpaced the increase in class size, expected to continue to rise. Nearly 3,700 aspiring physicians applied this year, 5 percent more than last year.

Kellaway, an ophthalmologist said, "It's absolutely getting more competitive. There are many, many good people out there who will just need to hold their dream in front of them and reapply."

William Lee, 21, a senior at Texas A&M University who interviewed in recent times at UT Medical School, attested that competition is stiff.

The Houston native, who applied to about eight medical schools said, "The people you're fighting with for these spots, they're all very bright individuals."

Though medical school registration is on the rise, increasing the number of residency positions is debatably more difficult. That is chiefly because programs in most states depend largely on funding from the federal government through Medicare, and that funding has remained static for the past few years.

State funding in Texas, however, is improving. The Legislature this year approved a raise to $63 million for residency programs, the uppermost level ever and more than double the $25 million appropriated last year.

Some state money could go towards a new neurology residency program at the UT Medical School here. Dr. Dong Kim, chairperson of the department of neurosurgery, said seven positions could be approved by January. Until then, the university offers residency in every area of expertise except neurology, he said.

Like the rest of the country, Texas does not have enough physicians to keep up with a growing population that demands more specialty services. According to the American Medical Association, it ranked 42nd in the country for its patient-to-resident ratio in 2005, with 194 patient-care physicians per 100,000 residents.

Recently, however, more doctors have applied for licenses in Texas, likely because of new limits in medical malpractice lawsuits that make it more appealing for physicians to practice here.



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