MCG expansion plans advance

Faculty, students, curriculum lined up for campuses

 ATLANTA - The expansion of medical education in Georgia is moving ahead, with admissions on pace, new campuses under development and a construction-management firm hired for classroom space in Augusta.

Development of the Medical College of Georgia's partnership with the University of Georgia is on schedule, Athens Campus Dean Barbara Schuster told members of the Board of Regents on Tuesday.

"It's beginning to feel like a school," she said, noting that the curriculum is coming together.

On Thursday the admissions committee assigned 12 students to the Athens campus from those who were granted acceptance to MCG.

They will join 13 others who gained early admission and had asked to attend that campus.

One student who was accepted for the previous year but delayed enrollment will also attend in Athens, bringing the class size to 26.

Chancellor Erroll Davis asked Schuster, "What is the risk of not having a full complement (of the 40 students expected)?"

"Zero," she replied.

Enough students will be accepted to MCG to fill all of the expanded seats in Augusta in addition to the available classroom seats in Athens.

The admissions committee is assigning students to make sure both campuses have a similar balance by race, gender and academic qualifications, Schuster said.

MCG is also reaching out in other ways as part of its expansion from 190 students to 230.

It is close to hiring an associate dean for the Athens campus who will work with hospitals there and in Gainesville to develop the hands-on instruction students will get during their residencies after graduation.

And it has hired an associate dean for curriculum to line up clinical instruction for third- and fourth-year students who will be based in Savannah or Brunswick.

Savannah and Brunswick will develop a campus for those students, just as Albany has and Rome is considering.

The Albany campus opens in July with 17 students, nearly twice the number originally planned because interest has been higher than expected.

In addition to working beside doctors, the students in Albany will also have the chance to participate in a 12-month course on physician leadership that aims to equip them to become advocates in whatever community they practice.

"It has been observed by some that physicians are not as active in the community as they could be because of their careers," said Dr. Doug Miller, the dean of the MCG School of Medicine.

During Tuesday's monthly meeting, the regents approved a contract with the construction management firm Gleeds' Atlanta office to oversee planning and eventual construction of a $105 million classroom building on the Augusta campus that will be shared by the medical and dental schools. It will be called the Medical Commons.

The regents also approved a six-month renewal of the annual contract with MCG Health Inc. to operate the hospital and clinics there.

MCG Health is a separate legal entity created in 2000 to maximize some savings that would not have been available had the school continued to run the facility.

A committee is discussing a restructuring of the arrangement that will be the basis of the agreement for the next 10 years.

Davis said the details would be ready for the regents and the attorney general to comment on by April, well before the underlying contract expires June 30.

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