Long before they were accepted to the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, Caroline Lewis and Jared Dowdy had been touched by the school.
The first-year medical students say they met and shadowed MCG alumni in southeast and southwest Georgia, respectively, who made them want to follow in their footsteps. They are among a flood of applications in the past two years to MCG that some attribute to the school’s increased statewide presence.
Medical school applications have increased 10 percent and 18 percent over the past two cycles at MCG. Part of that could be the national trend of applications increasing overall, up 3.4 percent and 7 percent for the most recent cycles, said Dr. Gina Duncan, the interim associate dean for admissions at MCG. The school can also point to increased applications from southwest and southeast Georgia, where MCG operates clinical campuses in Albany and Savannah.
Applications for the most recent cycle are up 31 percent from the southeast and 29 percent from the southwest. Over the past decade, MCG has been spreading out across the state, which includes a four-year branch campus in Athens, Duncan said.
“We have been expanding pretty constantly,” she said.
In far southwest Georgia in Bainbridge, the physicians whom Dowdy was able to shadow and connect with in nearby Albany were also connected to the MCG clinical campus there. That he could do his clinical clerkships there is a plus, he said.
“All of my family lives in south Georgia, so I was very drawn to the idea that I could go back in a couple of years and be closer to home,” Dowdy said. “I’m five hours from home as it is right now.”
As she grew up in Savannah, Lewis said, MCG was already on her mind long before the establishment of a clinical campus there.
“It always seemed to me that most of the practicing physicians in Savannah that I had shadowed or just have known personally were MCG alumni,” she said. “When I decided to apply to medical school, MCG was always the first medical school that came into my mind. I’ve always thought of MCG as Georgia’s medical school.”
Lewis thinks that holds true for the people she knows applying from Savannah.
“For the most part, it is in the forefront of everyone’s mind as being the school with the highest quality education and reputation,” she said.
Having applications increase from 2,384 to 2,815 means more competition for those 230 first-year positions, Duncan said.
“It creates a good problem for us,” she said. “We have seen this year more outstanding applicants and more qualified applicants than we have room for, than we have seats for. It enables us to have an opportunity to select the best and brightest students who are going to become future leaders in health care in our state and in the nation.”
Applications are up sharply among blacks, increasing by 61 percent from the previous cycle – more than one in six applications this year at MCG came from a black student – and are up 38 percent among Hispanics.
“We’re looking at highly qualified applicants from all kinds of backgrounds,” Duncan said.