Match Day at GRU reiterates doctor shortage in Ga.

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, March 15, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Almost 200 students found out Friday where they will be heading for their residency. It was Match Day at Georgia Regents, a crazy day filled with costumes and music.

The students may not have looked like doctors on Friday, but underneath their costumes was the 2013 graduating class from Georgia Regents Medical College.

"I think there were a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement, and I think I like the way our school does it because we get to dress up and have a good time with it," said Sagar Patel.

He was a teenage mutant ninja turtle for their "I Love the 90s" themed Match Day, but it's not all fun and games.

"You work four years in medical school and it all comes down to this one day," Patel said.

Despite all the crazy props and costumes, Match Day is a very serious day that determines the future for 190 students.

"This day is the culmination of making this rank list and finding out where you're gonna be for the next part of your life," said Catherine Warner.

They could go anywhere in the country.

"Our medical students are well sought after," said Medical College Dean Peter Buckley. "They will spread across America. We're also happy that many of them will stay here both in Georgia as well as stay here with us."

It's a problem Georgia faces every day. The state ranks 41st in the nation for the amount of physicians per 1,000 people.

"We have a chronic shortage of doctor in Georgia likely to become worse over time," Buckley said.

As doctors we train continue to leave, that problem isn't getting any better. Just 17 percent of this year's graduating class will be staying in the state of Georgia, but Dean Buckley says that statistic doesn't show what will happen after residency.

"Like everything else, it's a balance," he said. "We'll have some people stay, some people leave, but like everything else, the people who leave will likely come back to us again."

Patel is heading to Carolina and then Texas, but like Buckley predicted, says he hopes to one day come back.

"The one thing I've realized is you have no idea what's going to happen in the future," Patel said.

Fifty percent of those who graduate from GRU end up coming back to practice in the state of Georgia. They are working on ways to keep more doctors here through scholarships and more residency slots statewide.

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