MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - White coats were presented to doctors in training Tuesday, hoping to improve a big healthcare problem in South Georgia.
Residents in the Georgia South Family Medicine Program were welcomed into the Moultrie community.
Hospital officials said seventy-five percent of all physicians stay within 60 miles of where they train.
"This was something that was so important to me," new resident Catie Duskin said. "To have family medicine back home in our area."
Duskin grew up in Dawson and is excited to be back in South Georgia after med school.
Those in-charge of providing healthcare to people in the area said her homecoming is a crucial part of fixing a big problem.
"Sometimes patients are waiting three or four months to get in and see a physician," Colquitt Regional CEO Jim Matney said, regarding the issue in some parts of the region. "So, we believe this is a way to take care of that need."
Experts said the region has a shortage of physicians. Ten to twelve counties in the area are considered underserved. That only makes it harder to attract more doctors.
"It becomes a difficult task to try to recruit doctors into an area like this, but we've learned, if you grow your own, you can do this," Program Director Kirby Smith said.
For the past two years, that's exactly what the Georgia South Family Medicine Residency Program at Colquitt Regional has been doing.
"I'd be lying, if I said I was completely calm about it, but its also exciting," Duskin said. "This is what we've been working for. So, we finally get this opportunity to see patients as physicians. That's a huge step."
A huge step that those in the community hope will keep adding more white coats to South Georgia, and improve medical care.
Hospital officials said the program is beginning to make a name for itself. It will expand to accept four residents next year.
Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.