ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A shortage of surgeons and family practice doctors threaten 54 million rural Americans nationwide.
It's a definite problem in southwest Georgia, but now you can add three more physicians to the list of professionals.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital held their 2008 residency commencement on Saturday night.
The three doctors are choosing to cut south Georgia's shortage by staying here. It took years of hard work but somehow they made it.
"It may overall seem like a long time to get to your goal, but you have to break it into small little goals, and if you look at it that way it seems very manageable, if you look at the end and how long your training is it's a little bit overwhelming," said Dr. Charity Wilson, graduate.
Doctor Charity Wilson, will work at The Veranda, and is one of three doctors in this graduating class who will practice medicine in Albany.
"Just coming back to your home town, it's just what I've always kind of imagined, like I said practicing in the area where you know the people, and you know the culture and experiences in that area," said
Successful completion of residency training is a requirement to practice medicine in most states.
So far many of Phoebe's graduates have stayed in the area as practicing physicians.
"The focus of our program has been to train folks here in southwest Georgia, with the goal of having them stay here. We've been very successful more than 70 percent of the graduates have stayed here in southwest Georgia," said Joel Wernick, Phoebe CEO.
The residents no longer need to practice under the supervision of fully licensed physicians, and Dr. Clay who will stay at Phoebe is ready to make an impact in the lives others.
"It's just a challenge every day, you get the ability to help people every day you walk into a room, it's a different case, something different and you get to learn a lot from patients and you to help somebody," Dr. Clay Thomas, Graduate.
Dr. Damond Blueitt is leaving to further a fellowship in Sports Medicine, but doesn't rule out moving back to the area to make an impact on the mortality rate in this region.
"I'm staying on the east coast to do a sports medicine fellowship in Greenville South Carolina, then after that it's a possibility I could come back here to Albany," Dr. Damon Blueitt, Sports Medicine Fellowship.
This marks the culmination of a long road for all five graduates, three of which could be treating you, in the near future.
These graduating doctors are part of the 13th class since the program's inception in 1993.