March 16, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---An agreement has been reached between two of Augusta's most well-known hospitals that could create more local opportunities for medical students.
University Hospital will now accept MCG med students needing residency hours.
It's a program that's gotten off-track these last two years, and now officials want to rekindle this residency relationship.
Tim Moore and Shireen Fischer are both second year students at MCG, and one day, they'll both do residencies.
"Facilitating the education is incredibly important, and especially after you graduate," Shireen said.
Which is why for more than a century, MCG has looked to neighboring hospitals to accept its students as residents.
But University Hospital's Dr. Randy Smith says it hasn't happened at his hospital for two years.
"They did not have the manpower to service this place as well as their other obligations at MCG and the VA," Dr. Smith said.
But it turns out, they do now.
Talk of having to expand by building a $250 million satellite campus in Athens sounds confusing to some, since Augusta alone has more than a dozen facilities to accommodate MCG students and encourage them to stay here for the future.
"The literature supports that physicians are more likely to come back to an environment that they trained in," Dr. Andy Albritton, associate dean of curriculum at MCG told News 12 by phone.
Tim Moore doesn't know where he'll go, but he says he would consider a local residency.
"Especially since everything comes here from surrounding counties," he said. "I think you can get a lot of different exposure to a lot of different things."
"We feel like our community patients are unutilized," Dr. Smith said. "Why go to Athens until you've done that here?"
MCG and University Hospital signed an affiliation agreement earlier this week.
Other hospitals in the area can also accommodate students: Doctor's and St. Joseph.
78 percent of an MCG student's education is provided right here in the CSRA. That's why local doctors say let's exhaust "our" resources first, before spending tax payer money on a new campus.
Of course, whether that satellite campus opens in Athens is a political move. The state legislature has to approve the money.
MCG will fight for it, but they're also counting on the legislature to put money back into the budget for a new dental school here in Augusta. That will be millions of dollars.
Another problem MCG faces with expanding is land.
They've talked for a long time about moving in where Gilbert Manor is now, right next to the MCG campus. But so far there's never been a decision to relocate all the folks who live in that public housing complex.
There's talk of moving them to a new location in south Augusta, but people who live there showed up in a big way earlier this week to protest a new public housing project.