MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) - Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Professors (PCOM) are shining a light on the need for physicians in rural areas.
Assistant Professor at PCOM South Georgia, Stacie Fairley, said their school is here because of the need for physicians in rural Georgia.
“Most of our rural hospitals are closing,” said Fairley.
Fairley said Georgia now has 55 counties without a hospital and 14 without a doctor.
The school made a graphic to show why PCOM is in Moultrie in the first place, while bridging the gap in areas like Southwest Georgia.
Fairly said one important aspect is recruiting.
“By recruiting students from the area, it’s more likely that once they become a physician, that they either come back to the Moultrie area, or go to another rural area, because they grew up and saw the need for physicians,” said Fairley.
Fairley said 34 percent of their current class is from rural Georgia.
PCOM said they also make sure students’ education and residency stay within parts of Southwest Georgia, keeping rotations in nearby hospitals.
“Such as Thomasville, Tifton, Moultrie. So we’re hoping that if we keep these students here long enough, that they will just want to stay,” said Fairley.
Fairley is also the director of the science and math summer academy.
This program exposes high school students to the medical field.
“These students are paired with our health students, and we hope that by knowing that most of our students come from a rural area, that will encourage them to pursue a career in medicine,” said Fairley.
One of the reasons why most physicians don’t come to rural hospitals is because of the socioeconomic barrier for patients.
“Some of them have to travel up to 30 miles to go to the nearest hospital. Now you’re delaying your care. You don’t have a car, you can’t afford for someone to take you to the hospital, and so now there’s a delay in case,” said Fairley.
This can all result in a higher cost in treatment for both parties.
Fairley said through these barriers, they’re hoping all students realize the need in rural Georgia.