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Dell Medical School at UT Austin: What’s Your Stake?

The Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is scheduled to accept its first class in 2016. There’s no doubt the school will be a boon for biomedical jobs and innovation in Austin, TX, and the surrounding region. But did you know that entire medical district could eventually infuse $2 billion yearly into our local economy (as reported by the Austin Business Journal), bringing direct and indirect benefits to you, your employees and your business as well?

“If we were only adding a medical school, the impact would be significant,” explained Dr. Jim Lindsey, Seton Healthcare Family’s former chief medical officer and current member of the Dell Medical School Steering Committee, in a column for the Travis County Medical Journal. “But we are also adding two other elements: A new teaching hospital, University Medical Center Brackenridge (UMCB), to be constructed by Seton Healthcare Family; and a significant increase in local public funding through Central Health, the county’s health care district, for innovative medical care and health education for the underinsured and uninsured.”

Here’s a quick look at what this medical district could mean for employers in Austin and Central Texas.

Growth in Ancillary Jobs

According to economic analysis and public policy consulting firm TXP, Inc., the combined impact of a medical complex and associated economic development in the life sciences for a community like Austin translates into nearly $1 billion in direct annual spending and about 6,900 direct jobs.

“When the ripple effects are factored in, the impact rises to a total annual economic impact of about $2 billion in economic activity and 15,400 jobs in the Austin area,” the firm posted to its website.

The firm’s president, Jon Hockenyos, explained to the Austin American-Statesman how this may translate into ancillary jobs.

“[About] 8,900 jobs that are not medical or life science-related would be all the additional workers in the community, from waiters to carpenters to store clerks,” he states, adding that 60 percent of the 15,400 jobs would not require a bachelor’s degree.

If you’re wondering how this may affect your own staffing and recruiting efforts, heed this: More biomedical and ancillary jobs means more families moving to the area. “As the number of residencies increases, we can expect many doctors who complete graduate medical education to begin their practice here, so long as Austin has the quality of life and economic growth that it has enjoyed in the past,” explained Dr. Lindsay.

This means highly skilled talent – spouses of those working and learning at the medical school, for instance – will be lured away from other metro areas like Chicago, San Diego and New York to place roots right here in Central Texas.

Employee Healthcare

Research and accessibility: The brain trust behind the new medical district intends to bring these two factors together to greatly improve healthcare for all Central Texans. First, let’s take a look at the impact of research. The school is expected to advance the cutting-edge research already being performed at the Dell Pediatric Research Institute (DPRI), the Cockrell School of Engineering, McCombs School of Business, and other UT programs actively researching cell and molecular biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, chemistry, public health, sociology, psychology, health care delivery systems and health care policy. Seton’s new teaching hospital, University Medical Center Brackenridge (UMCB), will provide a place to take that innovative research from the bench to the bedside – turning ideas into cures.

This then brings us to accessibility. Not only will this feed Austin’s already thriving culture of innovation, it also means those of us living in Central Texas will no longer need to leave work and travel to the Houston area or elsewhere for certain state-of-the-art specialized care for ourselves or our family members.

The new medical district will be a public-private partnership with UT Austin, the UT System, Central Health and Seton Healthcare that is meant to increase accessibility to healthcare in Austin for everyone, regardless of income and insurance. Created by Travis County voters in 2004, Central Health is the local healthcare district that provides health care coverage and funding through an extensive network of health care providers who offer access to care to low-income, uninsured residents of Travis County.

“The [objective] is to become the hub in Travis County for patient-centered care that improves health outcomes through expanded care coordination, types of care and patient management,” said Dr. Lindsey.

Your Predictions

While the true impact of The Dell Medical School is yet to be realized, we’d love your thoughts on how it could affect Austin’s job market. Will it attract job candidates from other areas in Texas or the nation? In what industries? Tell us what you think!

Image credit: Image by peshkova / 123RF Stock Photo.