ATHENS, Ga.-- A team from the organization that accredits American medical schools comes to Athens today to evaluate preparations for a new medical campus scheduled to open next year in a historic mill just east of the University of Georgia campus.
And university officials will work hard to make a good impression.
If what the three-person evaluation team reports back to the Liaison Committee for Medical Education is favorable, the new Medical College of Georgia-UGA medical partnership could receive the go-ahead to begin recruiting students.
"It is a very important visit," said UGA Provost Arnett Mace.
Technically, the committee will decide in June whether the MCG School of Medicine will be allowed to expand its entering class by 40 students - the number of students expected to begin studies at the Athens campus in August 2010.
But in a broader sense, the decision means MCG and UGA can go ahead with the Athens medical campus the two schools will run jointly - if the evaluators conclude the education and support proposed for Athens students meets LCME standards.
"The exciting thing is that the site visit is coming; we're moving along," said Dr. Barbara Schuster, dean of the Athens medical campus.
Hiring faculty and designing a course of study are on schedule, Schuster said.
The accrediting team was scheduled to arrive in Augusta late Sunday and stay through early this afternoon, speaking to MCG officials as well as Schuster and Mace.
Medical college officials already have submitted dozens of pages of information and answered questions such as what the Athens students will study and how they will be evaluated.
"What we provided made a strong case (for LCME approval)," Mace said.
In Athens, the evaluation team will spend time with faculty members, physicians and local hospital officials who will help train medical students attending the Athens campus.
The trio also will inspect the buildings where the medical campus initially will be housed - two historic mill buildings on Williams Street, near UGA's North Campus.
Workers remain on schedule to finish remodeling the buildings by June, said UGA Campus Architect Danny Sniff.
The mill buildings in the recent past housed a nightclub, a health club and a telemarketing center. Now workers are carving up the space into classrooms, offices and examining rooms.
The evaluators also probably will take a look at the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School's 58-acre campus in Normaltown. The Navy school site will become the permanent home for the Athens medical campus sometime after the Navy moves its training program to Rhode Island in 2011.
The LCME accreditation standards and procedures are posted on the organization's Web site, www.lcme.org.