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Friday, December 16, 2011 - 11:30am

Doctor Shortage Not Improving

Georgia’s only public medical school reported this week that a record number of students applied to the Augusta campus this year, while new numbers showed Georgia’s doctor shortage is not improving.

More doctors are practicing in Georgia, but the state continues to rank near the bottom nationally in its number of physicians per capita, according to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Yet the state is better than average at retaining graduates of medical school and residency programs.

So news that the Medical College of Georgia at the Georgia Health Sciences University saw a 10 percent jump in applicants for its 230 freshman slots could bode well for the future.

Still, MCG dean Peter Buckley said the state needs to add medical residency positions so more young doctors stay to work in Georgia.

“If you do both your medical student training and your residency training, you have a likelihood of staying in that state, and that’s why building this workforce continuum is really predicated on having the whole portfolio,” Buckley said.

To that end, the university Board of Regents is working on a program to add 400 new residency slots in Georgia.

Buckley also said the school needs to understand the jump in applications to make sure it’s not a one-year blip.

“[We need to] try to understand better the factors and to try to drive those factors so that inevitably we have a higher and broader and more diverse pool of applicants to choose from,” Buckley said. “That’s going to get us the best doctors tomorrow.”

MCG’s increase in applications was significantly higher than the national average of 3 percent growth.

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