AUSTIN (KXAN) - What will Central Texas need in the next decade to offer world class healthcare for a growing population? Some say it will take a medical school and teaching hospital.
Sen. Kirk Watson is leading the effort to get one.
When Dr. TJ Milling visits Houston's Medical Center he can't help but think of what Austin could be.
"All those buildings, all that research, all that medical education going on and across the street is Rice University and it made me think about the Northeast corner of our downtown," said Milling, an emergency room physician.
That's why Milling and others are pushing for a medical school and teaching hospital to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge.
On Wednesday, March 7, KXAN will host a live town hall discussion called " ATXpansion : Healthcare in Central Texas. Community leaders will talk about the various issues we face in the coming years. It will take place from 7 p.m . to 8 p.m . at the Hill Country Bible Church - Northwest Campus in Cedar Park. Register here to attend free of charge.
"The truth is you need to have that infrastructure surrounding a medical center to draw the best and brightest positions to a community," he said.
According to officials at Seton, Texas ranks 42nd in the number of physicians per capita, and in 2016, Seton anticipates a shortage of 770 physicians in Central Texas.
The largest deficits will be in specialties like family practice, internal medicine, as well as infectious disease, pulmonology and rheumatology.
"Having a medical school here will enable us to provide more support personnel, more doctors, doctors tend to stay in the areas where they train," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.
Watson says the medical school and teaching hospital would help everyone.
"If currently you are underserved there would be more doctors able to provide care," said Watson. "If you're somebody who already has resources where you could get quality care greater physician population in areas of specialty care in areas of cancer research or geriatrics, people will no longer have to go to Houston or Dallas to get that specialty care."
Elizabeth Howard is a third-year pediatric resident at Dell Children's Medical Center.
"I think it is really important," Howard said. "It will bring more of the academic field to Austin, our hospital has a lot of great faculty and that are involved in research and things like that."
Seton has committed millions of dollars over the next several years to pay for residency programs both here at Dell Children's Hospital and UMC Brackenridge, and the hope is those residents will say here in Central Texas to practice medicine.
"We are building more residency programs in Austin so we can retain some of those physicians so they don't go to medical school here which is subsidized, it's our tax money subsidizing their education and then go off to New York or LA or somewhere and do their residency and then stay there," Milling said.
The exact cost of a medical school and teaching hospital is unknown but a committee of top community leaders has been formed to explore that.
Supporters say it would bring 15,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion to the economy.
"Once you get all those medical minds together thinking about medical problems and of course Austin is a tech city so you've got a lot of technological expertise and you get them thinking about medical problems, well those ideas will become products and products will become companies and Austin will enter this huge economic boom," Milling explained.
For Howard, the future development could mean research, job prospects and above all the opportunity to practice in the community she loves.
"No one should want to leave Austin," Howard said.
A local road project more than two decades in the making won't save drivers as much time as many had hoped.
The University of Texas Board of Regents adjourned Thursday without taking action on the job status of embattled UT President Bill Powers.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Two men were arrested and a third was being sought by police for the shooting death of 47-year-old Russell Martens.
Parking arrangements are a bit different this year at Austin's Trail of Lights, but there are options to suit just about anybody.
After two hours of discussion regarding the final design for Auditorium Shores, the Austin City Council decided to approve the design on a vote of 7-0 with amendments.