Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dean Buckley notes great progress and promise at the Medical College of Georgia

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.AUGUSTA, Ga. – He started with a short video highlighting the activity and potential of the state’s public medical school and concluded with a challenge to always do better and more.

Dr. Peter F. Buckley, Dean of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, ran quickly through a list of what’s needed, such as increasing student enrollment, building more collaborative relationships for patient care, research and education, and committing to more of the type of science that directly impacts patients.

Then he brought it home, reflecting on a year of unprecedented numbers of faculty recruits and student applications while breaking ground on a new educational facility that was capped last weekend with a $66 million gift to support student scholarship and endowed chairs for faculty.

“People are excited by what they are seeing, they are excited by what they are hearing and they want to be a part of this,” Buckley said during his May 3 State of the College Address.

Part of the excitement comes from being part of a brand new university that offers a long list of potential new joint degrees and an even stronger student pipeline.

“The 13th oldest medical school proudly takes its place among eight other colleges in the newest university, the most vibrant new university in America and that is Georgia Regents University,” Buckley said.

GRU emerged in early 2013 with the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Buckley thanked GRU President Ricardo Azziz for his leadership on this front as well as specific initiatives such as extensive growth in cancer research, patient care and education with an eye on National Cancer Institute designation for the GRU Cancer Center.

Buckley then gave a shout out across the state, to the four regional campuses of the medical school, -re-using the “Four in Five” phrase coined by Dr. Kathryn Martin, Interim Associate Dean for Regional Campus Coordination, during a recent address at a meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges. They were referencing bringing four campuses online – clinical campuses in Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest Georgia along with a second, four-year campus in cooperation with the University of Georgia in Athens. – in just five years.  He called the successful growth “extraordinary and unprecedented across the country,” then asked those campuses for a live update.

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.Dr. C Granville Simmons, Associate Dean of the Southwest Campus, shared that the MCG Department of Pediatrics is working with campus partner Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany on a pediatric hospitalist program that is aiding referrals from that part of the state to the GR Health System and that a consortium of five competing hospitals is coming together to bring graduate medical education to their part of the state.  Leonard Reeves, Assistant Dean of the newest campus in Northwest Georgia, noted that Azziz had just visited with alumni and the local Rotary Club in his part of the state and that a recent site visit by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education yielded no concerns.

Back at home base in Augusta, the concrete generosity of 1948 MCG graduate Dr. J. Harold Harrison, will enable additional growth with construction of the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons set to open next year.  To ensure excellent growth, the late Dr. Harrison and his wife Sue just gave an additional $66 million gift that will help aid both student and faculty recruitment and retention, Buckley said.

“I hope I have convinced you that Dr. Harrison has done the right thing,” Dr. Buckley said. “But we have a heavy burden. We need to live up to that, we need to go out of this room and do great things on behalf of the people of Georgia.”

Other MCG highlights include:

  • A growth in full-time faculty from 476 to 529 since 2009
  • Increased growth in MCG’s distributed model of education which puts medical students across Georgia; this year 40 percent of MCG students will train outside Augusta in an effort to aid the statewide physician shortage
  • Major collaborative recruits with the GRU Cancer Center including establishing a new Department of Radiation Oncology
  • Growth in the face of sustained, significant budget cuts totaling $23.2 million since 2009
  • Home of the 2012 recipient of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education, Dr. Ruth-Marie “Rhee” Fincher, Professor Emeritus and inaugural Vice Dean for Academic Affairs.

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