University cuts effecting more than education - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

University cuts effecting more than education

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – During a time of economic uncertainty, it seemed the healthcare industry was recession proof.

But with the state's university system slashing $300 million dollars, even medical programs are taking a hit.

"What is potentially hampered here is the reduction in residency training. In other words, once these medical students graduate, we would like to have more train in the area of primary care specialties," said Doug Patten, Phoebe Putney's VP of Medical of Affairs.

Right now, 15 residents receive training through Phoebe. The Medical College of Georgia planned to expand graduate medical training and bring more residents to Albany.

The $5 million program now in question was created in part to curtail a trend of med students going out of state to practice.

"Unless we expand graduate medical education, we're not going to see that change. We're not going to see that reverse where we have students who are educated in Georgia, that train in Georgia, who ultimately would practice in Georgia," said Patten.

But it's not just the operating rooms that could feel the pinch locally.

"We're not sure at this point what will be closed, but they're looking at eliminating half of the offices," said Dougherty County Extension Agent James Morgan.

Morgan says a proposal to close half of the state's county extension agencies and some research stations would hurt farmers.

"The information that we get from the some of the research station they're looking at shutting down is valuable to us. And if we're not able to get that information to farmers in a timely manner then could mean millions and millions of lost crops," said Morgan.

To go along with the proposed county extension cuts, the state is looking to eliminate its 4-H program, an organization that is the nation's largest. 

The move would save the state $6.4 million but would result in more than 100 layoffs and shutdown the state's 4-H camps.

State lawmakers ordered the University System Chancellor to come up with these cuts. He'll present them at a budget hearing at the capitol Wednesday.

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