Georgia is taking steps to address its ongoing doctor shortage. Recently, the state's composite medical board decided to let students from St. George’s University in Grenada finish their clinical training in Georgia. It’s part of an effort to get more primary care physicians to practice in underserved areas.
One reason for Georgia’s shortage: physicians tend to practice where they're trained, says SGU President G. Richard Olds.
"They key to Georgia to solve your physician shortage, is you need to make sure that students are being recruited into medical school from the areas of Georgia that have the greatest shortages,” Olds says.
That’s what SGU does, he says. The school recruits medical students from areas in the U.S. that need doctors. The students spend their first two years in medical school at SGU. Then they return to do clinical rotations where they’re from. The hope is that they’ll stay in those areas to practice.
SGU will do the same thing in Georgia, Olds says.
“Our plan, in fact, would be to recruit students from Georgia,” he says. “More specifically, [we would] recruit students that come from the areas of Georgia that have the greatest shortages, and then devise ways to get them back to do part of their medical training in affiliated hospitals, and ultimately, take and accept residencies in the state of Georgia in order that they stay and practice."
Olds says 75 percent of SGU’s medical school graduates go into primary care, which is an area of need in Georgia. Although he hopes this will help, Olds says the most efficient way to solve the state's shortage would be to add more residency slots.
State lawmakers have identified this as a problem they need to address. However, whether the state is able to do that may depend on its ability to secure federal funding.