"Proceeding as fast as we can is what we need to be doing and what we are doing," Dr. Rahn told the first meeting of the Medical Education Expansion Committee, created to oversee the initiative. "I think we're going to be fine."
Chancellor Erroll Davis also stressed the need for quickly moving the project forward, saying Georgia was 37th of the 50 states in the number of doctors per capita when discussions of the project began two years ago.
The state now ranks 40th.
"We're going in the wrong direction," Mr. Davis said.
Administrators with MCG and the University of Georgia are preparing for an April visit to the Athens site by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for medical schools. That committee's blessing will be critical for the school to go forward.
Regents recently approved a lease agreement for the property where the school will be housed until it moves to the Navy Supply Corps School, which is expected to be handed over to the University System of Georgia in 2011. Dr. Rahn and UGA Provost Arnett Mace said the schools were already working to hire a dean, department heads and faculty and to develop a curriculum for the Athens branch.
Despite an otherwise tight budget, regents approved an $8 million increase in the budget for the project, which also includes expanding programs in Albany and Savannah.
The liaison committee would likely make a final decision on the Athens site in June.
That would allow MCG to begin accepting applications for the satellite campus and send out early acceptances in fall 2009.
"If we get the approval in June, then we're fine," Dr. Rahn said.
Brandon Larrabee can be reached at brandon .firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 977-3709.