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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 2:37pm

Regents Want 400 New Residency Slots

A new University System of Georgia committee focused on boosting medical residencies in the state met for the first time this week.

Its goal is to ease a doctor shortage in the state; Georgia is expected to need at least 2,500 more doctors by 2020.

Even if every medical school graduate in Georgia wanted to stay here for their post-medical school residency, there are not enough slots. That has implications for where those new doctors will practice once they are finished with their education.

“[Graduate medical education] has a very powerful influence on practice location,” said Ben Robinson, executive director of the Center for Health Workforce Planning and Analysis at Georgia Health Sciences University. “Most folks tend to practice within 50 or 60 miles of where they train, so we also know that not only does it complete the pipeline and allow them to become a practicing doc, it’s gonna keep them here.”

The Board of Regents committee plans to add 400 new residency slots.

Robinson said the have found about 30 hospitals around the state that could offer the new programs.

“[The hospitals] have to be seeing a lot of people so that a physician in training can get the exposure to the art of medicine that they’re gonna need to become good doctors,” Robinson said. “There’s the severity of the patients that they’re seeing, the illnesses that they’re seeing, the variety of illnesses. So it’s a lot of things you’re looking at [to determine if the hospitals can start a residency program],”

Robinson said it will take four to six years before the first new positions open.

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