AUGUSTA, Ga. – Seven students from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University are beginning their third-year of medical school at the Northwest Campus in Rome today.
The students, dubbed the Magnificent Seven by Campus Assistant Dean Leonard Reeves, are the first to enroll at the campus, which was announced in 2010 as part of a statewide plan to increase enrollment and training opportunities for students at the state’s only public medical school.
“This campus and our partnerships with physicians, hospitals, colleges and community groups in Rome and throughout Northwest Georgia are critical to the work of educating more physicians for our state and nation, “said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley. “It is our goal and belief that the opportunities presented in this part of our great state will make a lasting impression on our students and play an integral role in their decisions about where to train and practice when they graduate.”
GRU and MCG leadership will join Rome leaders Oct. 15 for an official ribbon cutting at the new campus.
MCG students have historically spent four- to six-week rotations studying internal medicine and pediatrics alongside physicians at Rome’s famed Harbin Clinic. With the opening of the residential campus, students will now spend most of their clinically-intensive third and fourth years with physicians in Rome and throughout Northwest Georgia. The college is also working with hospitals in the area to establish or expand residency programs where medical school graduates can complete specialty training in areas such as family medicine and internal medicine.
Students will be taught using a longitudinal integrated curriculum, an emerging medical education model that stresses patient-centered care and tends to produce more primary care physicians, which are particularly in short supply in Georgia and the nation, Reeves said. The model allows students to follow a core panel of their own patients throughout the year in a variety of environments. Students follow patients through medical office visits, hospital, surgery, rehab and in-home visits. Students are exposed to an array of clinical training opportunities in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, neurology, and psychiatry.
“These students are very brave in undertaking this remarkable model of health care,” Reeves said. “The hope is that the students and their patients are able to develop a relationship that allows for more thorough health care.”
The seven MCG students enrolling in Rome are Sung Lee, of Milton, Ga.; Anne Staigle, of Peachtree City, Ga.; Annie Park, of Duluth, Ga.; William “Chris” Harding, of Chickamauga, Ga.; Richard “Hayden” Self, of Rome; Elizabeth Schmidt, of Stone Mountain, Ga.; and Bianca Whitten, of Stockbridge, Ga.
The goal is for 10 more students to begin studying in Rome in 2014 and an additional 15 enroll in 2015, Reeves said.
Floyd Medical Center, a community hospital that already has a family medicine residency program, and Redmond Regional Medical Center, a 230-bed referral hospital, along with the Harbin Clinic, will contribute facilities and personnel to help educate students and ultimately improve health care access for the region, he said. Other major supporters include the Georgia Highlands College, the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center, Berry College, Shorter University, Georgia Northwestern Technical College as well as state and local officials.
MCG’s statewide medical education expansion includes two other clinical campuses, Southwest Campus based at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, and Southeast Campus based at St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah and Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick. One-hundred-twenty students are studying at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership in Athens, a four-year campus that is a cooperative effort of GRU and the University of Georgia. The medical school class size is scheduled to increase from 190 to 240 in Augusta and to 60 in Athens by 2020. The J. Harold Harrison Education Commons, which will accommodate the larger class in Augusta, is under construction and will open in 2014.