Medical College of Georgia to establish clinical campus at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

05/12/04

Clinical teaching campus first of its kind for MCG

Albany, Ga., (May 12, 2004) The Medical College of Georgia and the Phoebe Putney Health System are combining resources to expand clinical education and health care opportunities for Southwest Georgians. Leaders from the state's public health sciences university and the Albany-based hospital today announced the creation of the Medical College of Georgia Clinical Campus at Albany. The two organizations are in the final stages of formalizing the agreement.

The Albany Clinical Campus, which will be located at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, is designed to enhance medical students' experiences with community-based medicine. The partnership will also help reduce the shortage of certain medical specialties.

"There are many counties in Southwest Georgia that are underserved in respect to the number of available physicians," said Dr. Ruth Marie Fincher, vice-dean for academic affairs at MCG. "The clinical campus in Albany will create an opportunity for us to help nurture the development of students who are interested in a career in medicine, and ultimately, help meet the health care needs of the state. Community-based practice is a dimension of health care that really compliments what we can teach in an academic medical center."

MCG's affiliation with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital began over a decade ago. Since then, the successful collaboration has provided quality dental, allied health and medical student education. Both organizations hope the establishment of the clinical campus will be a stimulus for further growth. Third-year medical students have been serving six-week clinical rotations at the hospital in the areas of family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine specialties as part of their core educational requirements.

"This clinical campus will give students an expanded opportunity to see the advantages of practicing in a community hospital that offers tertiary care in a regional setting. As a bonus, they will also be making decisions about their careers while in the program, and we think many will want to return here to practice medicine," said Joel Wernick, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System.

"Over the past decade, many of the young physicians who came through our program have done just that, even though they've had only several months' exposure to the rewards of working in our community. Their decisions to stay enhance the quality of care for the citizens of our region."

With the formation of the clinical campus, MCG hopes to increase the number of students taking clerkships in Albany, as well as the types of specialty, such as surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology or psychiatry, available to students. In the 2003-04 academic year, 41 medical students completed core clerkship rotations at Phoebe.

"The Medical College of Georgia is committed to providing quality health care professionals for the entire state," said Dr. David M. Stern, dean of the MCG School of Medicine. "The fine health care professionals at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital have long been our partners in this commitment, and we appreciate the expanded role they will now play as we move forward with this new clinical campus for the School of Medicine."

Students assigned to Albany also work with the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), which provides logistical and training support for the medical students. MCG officials turned to West Virginia and Oklahoma to study successful models similar to the new clinical campus before exploring potential locations for a second campus.

To coordinate and provide for future expansion, the program will include an assistant dean for the Albany campus who will have MCG faculty status. Additionally, MCG and Phoebe Putney will seek state funding to renovate an auditorium in Albany to be used for continuing medical education, a community-based mini-medical school and high school/college health care pipeline activities.

"My dream for this is that over time the Albany campus could grow to be a site where a student could spend their whole third-year of medical school," said Dr. Fincher. "This could also be a wonderful opportunity, particularly for the cancer initiative, to be able to collaborate for community-based research."

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