More health care professionals will study in Fort Bend County with a new medical school collaboration announced March 12.

Two-minute impact

The Ibn Sina Foundation, OakBend Medical Center and Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine partnered to create the Ibn Sina Clinical Training Region at OakBend Medical Center in Fort Bend County.

The collaboration will bring third- and fourth-year osteopathic medicine students to Fort Bend County to conduct their clinical rotations at OakBend Medical Center facilities or at one of the Ibn Sina clinics within the county, officials said at the March 12 press conference.

According to its website, OakBend Medical Center is an independent, nonprofit community hospital located in Fort Bend County with three hospitals and many specialty centers serving area residents. The Ibn Sina Foundation is a medical nonprofit with various medical, dental and mental health clinics around the Houston area, according to its website.

Osteopathic medicine medical students specialize in caring for the historically underserved populations, Precinct 4 Commissioner Dexter McCoy said.

“This partnership is a beacon of hope ... and joy as it aims to prepare physicals to serve the underserved populations in Fort Bend County and the greater Gulf Coast region of Texas,” said Nasruddin Rupani, chair of the Ibn Sina Foundation, at the press conference. “Our big vision to bridging this gap remains steadfast in a world where accessibility, quality and health care demands a pressing need.”

The collaboration is set to have its first set of students begin servicing the community in August, officials said.

The background

McCoy said in a phone interview the partnership came to fruition when Rupani shared a vision to bring the training program to the area.

When McCoy heard of the potential collaboration, he said he knew the program needed to be in Fort Bend County and worked with the foundation as a part of the partnership steering committee to iron out the details of the program as a representative of the county and board member at OakBend Medical Center.

“There’s a huge deficit of well-trained doctors in suburban and rural areas, and we’re not immune to that in Fort Bend County,” McCoy said. “[With this new partnership], residents can expect more high-quality doctors able to deliver quality care, right here in their backyards.”

Digging in

McCoy said the partners are looking to expand the program within the next two years to include family medicine residency opportunities. He said they hope the program will help to retain students who complete their program in Fort Bend County.

“Research shows that doctors usually stay within 50 to 100 miles of where they’ve received their medical training,” he said. “We are hoping that by these doctors being trained in Fort Bend County ... that they elect to work in Fort Bend County.”

What they’re saying

Tom Mohr, dean of SHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in the program’s first two years students are on campus in Conroe to learn not only health care knowledge but also how to interact with patients with different backgrounds.

“Our hope is to increase access to care, increase primary care, increase community-based, patient-centered care,” Mohr said during the press conference. “We do that best not a large academic medical center but right here at OakBend Medical Center and our Ibn Sina clinics, where you can actually train with patients that are in need and you can get to understand their culture, get to understand what it is makes them tick and how you can partner for their health care that improves their lives and improves the lives of the community.”

Next steps

Now that the partnership has been established, McCoy said county staff will now look at ways to expand health care options.

“This is but one step in the process of expanding medical facilities in Fort Bend County, and we’re really happy to be partners in making that happen,” McCoy said.