Rather than constructing two similar medical buildings within a close proximity, Texas State and Texas A&M University are looking into combining resources for one shared facility.
Both universities have existing medical facilities in Round Rock. Each university has requested Tuition Revenue Bond funding for new medical buildings with cadaver labs this legislative session.
Bill Nance is vice president for Finance and Support Services. He said because the institutions’ Round Rock campuses are “probably less than a quarter of a mile apart,” officials are considering sharing Texas State’s proposed Health Professions Building.
Nance said he was present at a discussion between University Presidentand E.J. Pederson. Pederson is interim president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and interim vice chancellor for health affairs in that university system. Nance said the two leaders discussed a broad outline of a proposal for the shared medical building.
Nance said both institutions have verbally agreed the funding from the legislature would go to Texas State. Texas State and A&M would operate under a shared-services agreement allocating space and calculating each university’s portion of the operating cost once the shared building opens, Nance said.
“Opportunities for collaboration between higher-education institutions such as this could be beneficial for students and the state’s taxpayers through greater efficiencies of service, cost savings, leveraged expertise and expanded shared resources,” Pederson said in an email statement. “We are continuing discussions in conjunction with state leadership to determine opportunities on this front.”
Discussions on the proposal for the shared building are currently moving forward.
Texas State plans to build a gross anatomy, or cadaver, lab, in the proposed Health Professions Building for the physical therapy program, Nance said. A&M’s building proposal additionally includes a gross anatomy lab. Several officials from both schools have met to discuss the possibility of increasing the size of Texas State’s lab to accommodate A&M with additional office space for its faculty, Nance said.
Nance said A&M officials will “throw their political support” behind Texas State’s request to the legislature if the size and price tag of the proposed Health Professions Building are increased to accommodate them.
Texas State officials are asking for $48.8 million from the legislature to construct the Health Professions Building, and A&M’s request is in “sort of the same range,” Nance said. Sharing the facility with Texas State is much more cost-effective for A&M, he said.
Ruth Welborn, dean of the College of Health Professions, said she began preliminary discussion with administrative staff in A&M’s facility in August to discuss sharing a gross anatomy lab. Welborn said medical students from A&M and the Texas State physical therapy program will both need gross anatomy labs for their curricula.
Welborn said the College of Health Professions is ready to work with A&M students and faculty who will be using the lab.
Barbara Sanders, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, said the collaboration would give both medical- and physical-therapy students an opportunity to learn more about each other’s professions “up close and personal.”
“In health care, we encourage collaboration and interprofessional education activities,” Sanders said. “Anytime you can have health professionals learn more about one another’s educational level and their practice delivery, it improves health care in the long run.”
There has been no bill filed reflecting this proposal, but both university systems’ offices have begun discussions in the legislature, Nance said.
“We’re only in the second month of a five-month legislative session,” Nance said. “So, there’s a long way to go, but we have agreed to work with A&M on this through the session and see if this can’t become a reality.”