Georgia fared slightly worse in its supply of physicians in a recent national ranking, but if the state is going to improve it must help itself, said the dean of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.
“This is a chronic difficulty,” Dr. Peter Buckley said.
In almost every major rating area of the State Physician Data Book from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Georgia dropped at least one position in the 2010 rankings compa+red with the previous ranking in 2008. The state went from 40th to 41st in the number of active physicians per 100,000 people and from 44th to 45th in active primary care physicians per 100,000, for instance.
On the plus side, the state is ninth in retaining graduates of public medical schools. If a student did both medical school and residency within the state, almost 72 percent stay to practice in the state, according to the association’s data.
Georgia officials would like to increase that residency training. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents wants to add 400 residency positions at a cost of $1.2 million for the first year, Buckley said.
The state is still stung by a snub this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take 1,354 funded but unfilled residency slots and distribute them to the states with the highest need.
Even though Georgia ranks 41st in residencies per population, the slots went to 11 states deemed higher in need by the group. Florida, which ranked only one slot higher than Georgia on the list, got 30 percent of the redistributed positions.
The federal government is not going to be the answer, Buckley said.
“Our state woes, that do not look good compared to other states, we need to take more on ourselves,” he said. “That’s why the Board of Regents has kind of stepped up to the plate.”
The new positions are in a budget request that went to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will have to decide whether to include them in his budget request to the Legislature.
On a bright spot for MCG, applications for the next medical school class are up 10 percent to 2,384, compared with a 2.6 percent increase nationally, Buckley said.