Georgia Health Science University in Augusta is sending more third- and fourth- year medical students to southeast Georgia hospitals.
GHSU medical students have been studying in southeast Georgia for years.
But through a new program starting next year, 20 students will be able to live in the region and finish their education at medical centers in Brunswick, Savannah, Waycross or Statesboro.
University assistant dean of curriculum, Dr. Turner Rentz, says, it's part of a mandate to get more physicians in underserved areas.
"We know that, statistically, if a student has a good experience of three months or more in a region, they are very likely to come back to an area," Rentz says. "Increasing clinical opportunities allows us to increase the number of students. Currently, we have 230 students in each class and that's one of the largest medical schools in the country. We hope, as things develop, we'll go to 300 students by 2015."
A study released last week ranks the state 41st in physicians per capita.
The university's southeast Georgia initiative follows similar efforts based in Albany, Rome and Athens.