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MCG introduces loan program to attract more health care students, workers

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 10:26 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Medical College of Georgia (MCG) is looking for new ways to increase access to healthcare and hire more health care workers in South Georgia.

Congressman Sanford Bishop spent Monday touring the Medical College of Georgia’s Southwest Campus in Albany. He heard about strategies the college is using to keep more health care employees in rural areas.

Rep Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-GA)
Rep Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-GA)(WALB)

Bishop said health care workers were always important, but the COVID-19 pandemic showed how much greater the need in Southwest Georgia is for more physicians.

One way MCG is working to keep doctors in South Georgia is through a new program called the 3+ Program. It’s an incentive program that offers loan forgiveness if students stay and work in an underserved rural area in Georgia.

“A year for a year for their residency training here as well as if they stay in an underserved area or rural area that’s in need of a physician. They can get a one for one-year loan forgiveness,” said Bishop.

Bishop said this initiative will get more graduates interested in healthcare because they will not face as much cost for their education.

The dean of the school and students
The dean of the school and students(WALB)

The program is funded by federal grants and some private donations.

Another form of health care important to rural Georgia is telemedicine, a way for people who live in rural areas to get expert help virtually.

The Medical College Of Georgia is offering two new telehealth programs, ultrasound and dermatology. Programs funded by federal grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Doug Patten, the associate dean of the Albany campus, said primary care providers in rural Georgia will be able to get feedback from their hospital in Augusta in seconds.

Doug Patten, the associate dean of the Southwest Regional Campus for the Medical College of...
Doug Patten, the associate dean of the Southwest Regional Campus for the Medical College of Georgia(WALB)

Patton said getting feedback in a timely manner can be life-changing for someone who has a spot on their skin that could be melanoma.

“The ability to get an almost instantaneous second opinion while the patient is still in the doctor’s office as to whether or not this is something that needs a biopsy or doesn’t. The likelihood it could be a deadly cancer or not is incredibly helpful,” said Patten.

Patton said this telehealth option keeps patients from having to drive hours for a specialist’s opinion.

Federal funds allocated for telehealth Patton said can also go towards technology, more equipment and investments in better internet access.

Congressman Bishop said he’s hopeful the types of grants that help fund these programs will be renewed to keep providing better health care.

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