October 6, 2023

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Half of our first-year class, several clinical chairs, visit regional clinical campuses statewide

You’ve heard me say it many times, but I believe that it always bears repeating — what gives MCG one of our greatest competitive advantages, I believe, is our statewide educational model. Specifically, our regional clinical campuses that are in literally every corner of our state and give our students opportunities to learn every type of medicine, in every type of environment Georgia has to offer, from academic medical centers to community hospitals, to small town solo practices in some of our most underserved communities. MCG students have long-traveled away from the main campus in Augusta for one-off clinical rotations, but in 2005, our first regional clinical campus — in Albany in partnership with Phoebe Putney Health System — opened, with the idea that students could live and learn there and in surrounding communities for the duration of their clinical education, with hopes that they would eventually return there to practice. Our Southeast Campus, based at St. Joseph’s Candler in Savannah and Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, followed soon after in 2007, and our Northwest Campus which operates in partnership with Floyd/Atrium, Advent/Redmond and The Harbin Clinic in Rome and Hamilton Health Care System in Dalton, opened in 2013. These campuses not only serve as home for “residential” students, but the faculty there, many of whom volunteer their time, also provide rich experiences for hundreds of “transitional” students who travel to these campuses for one or two rotations, but who are mostly based at our four-year campuses in Augusta or in Athens. The support of these campuses and our clinical partners has enabled us to continue to grow our class size and educate more doctors for a state that still ranks 40th in the number of physicians per capita. We simply couldn’t do what we exist to do without them.

Next half will travel to campuses in December

About half of our freshman class got to experience these campuses in person this past Monday and Tuesday when they split into groups, loaded onto three separate charter buses, and went to visit them. Although they’re only about three months into their medical education, it really won’t be long until these students are making decisions about where they want to spend their clinical years. We had to show them their options.

Students headed to Southwest Georgia were also accompanied by our chair of emergency medicine, Dr. Richard Schwartz. They started their tour in Thomasville at Archbold Medical Center, where our students do their general surgery rotations…and we hope more rotations soon. I’m told the highlights included a hospital tour from two internal medicine residents who grew up in the area; greetings from Thomasville’s Mayor Jay Flowers; an evening reception with students studying at the SW Campus at Albany’s Pretoria Fields Collective; and more tours of the cool facilities at Phoebe.

As for the group that headed Southeast, they had with them our chair of psychiatry and health behavior, Dr. Vaughn McCall. I hear they toured the beautiful facilities at Southeast Georgia Health System and then a took a driving tour that included iconic spots like Driftwood Beach and the Saint Simons Island Pier. They capped day one with a dinner on the water hosted by Dr. Jim Gowen, a 1968 graduate and former OB/GYN regional site clerkship director. The next day, they traveled back up I-95 to check out the Savannah campus offices before heading back to Augusta.

The group that traveled Northwest was accompanied by our chair of neurology Dr. Jeff Switzer and chair of surgery Dr. Will Jordan. That group started in Dalton where they were able to see the top-notch facilities at Hamilton like Bradley Wellness Center; Peeples Cancer Institute; and the sim center. Dinner that night was at the Anna Shaw Children’s Institute, the only comprehensive outpatient center in the state for children with developmental and behavioral delays. The next morning, they headed to Rome where they learned more about the Northwest Campus’ longitudinal integrated curriculum (LIC) and the unique experiences that offers, and then got a tour of the community that showcased our clinical partners and other student-focused facilities. 

I know it was a whirlwind couple of days for our students and those who traveled with them, including many of our academic affairs faculty. Thank you all for your hard work showing off our unique statewide campus, and for ultimately ensuring the health of people all over Georgia by educating the doctors they need and deserve.

Georgia Composite Medical Board meets on MCG campus

Another group that exists to protect the health of Georgians is the state Composite Medical Board, which is the licensing agency for physicians, physician assistants, respiratory care professionals, and many, many other health care professionals in our state. They also investigate complaints and discipline those who violate The Medical Practice Act or other laws governing professional behavior. A tough job, I’m sure. The board currently licenses more than 59,000 health care professionals and consists of 15 members appointed by the Governor: 13 physicians and two members representing the general public. Just yesterday, we were honored to host their monthly meeting here in our Harrison Commons. For my part, I updated board members and those in attendance on things like our innovative curriculum, including the MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway that is providing more doctors for underserved Georgia, our growing class size and the impending opening of our third four-year campus in Savannah, our eventual plans to expand our regional campus presence into Atlanta, and the recent completion of our partnership deal with Wellstar. It really was a privilege to host them in Augusta.

Faculty, resident honored by American Medical Women’s Association

Switching gears just a bit, we recently learned that several of our faculty and one of our residents have been named recipients of a 2023 INSPIRE Award from the American Medical Women’s Association. These awards, given by the group’s Leadership Council, recognize women physicians who personally and/or professionally provide inspiration to other physicians or students through expert and compassionate patient-oriented medical care, or through mentorship, or service to the community. The awards are always announced in September, which is Women in Medicine Month. This year there are just 67 honorees nationwide and I am proud to call five of them our colleagues. At our Augusta Campus they are Dr. America Revere, a fourth-year general surgery resident at MCG and Wellstar MCG Health; and from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Jennifer Allen, associate professor, residency program director and director of menopause and midlife health and Dr. Kelli Braun, a 2004 graduate, professor and director of the department’s simulation and virtual education and our senior associate dean for admissions. In Athens at our AU/UGA Medical Partnership Campus, they are Dr. Laurel Murrow, associate professor of medicine and Dr. Scarlett Schneider, assistant professor of medicine. Congratulations to you all.

PaceDay 2023 is next weekend

While we’re on the subject of inspiring, I wanted to remind you all that PaceDay 2023 is next Sunday, Oct. 15. Since 2019, Paceline has raised over $1 million for innovative research at our Georgia Cancer Center. Last year alone, we raised over $400,000 and funded nine research projects. The premise is simple — teams sign up to fundraise and then ride 25, 50 or 75 miles through some of our community’s most beautiful areas — I’ve committed to ride 25. Hopefully, I won’t crash. It’s a challenge, but nothing compared to the challenges people fighting cancer face, which is something I have personally witnessed. My father, who was otherwise healthy, died of prostate cancer in 2000. I ride to honor him and countless others. I hope you can join me this year. If you can’t commit to riding, you can also donate or volunteer. Check out the Paceline website to find out more.

I would also be remiss here not to give a special shoutout to Dr. Eric Lewkowiez, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, our third-year class dean and an avid cyclist who lets me borrow one of his bikes so I can participate in this event every year. Thank you for your inspiration as well, Dr. Lewkowiez.

Department of Urology to hold 50th Anniversary Rinker Witherington Society Meeting

One more exciting event to tell you about as we wrap up this time: Our newest department, Urology, is hosting their 50th anniversary Rinker Witherington Society Meeting here on campus next Friday and Saturday. In celebration of hitting the half-century mark, they have invited residency program alumni who work at such prestigious institutions as Johns Hopkins, Roswell Park Cancer Center and Oregon Health & Science University, as guest speakers. The scientific sessions begin on Friday afternoon and are followed by a gala at the Old Medical College on Telfair Street on Friday night. They’re back at it Saturday morning with more great presentations on a wide range of topics. The program also includes a presentation by Dr. Martha B. Boone, one of the first 100 women to be board certified in urology. She is a former faculty member here who turned to writing about the profession when she retired from private practice in 2020. She’ll talk about her latest book, The Unfettered Urologist, which she says hopes conveys pearls of wisdom she never had time to include in a short office visit with her patients. Thank you to our urology chair, Dr. Martha Terris, and her department staff, for planning this annual event and for showcasing the amazing and talented trainees our program is known for.

All my best to you,

Dean Hess Signature

David C. Hess, MD

Dean, Medical College of Georgia

Upcoming Events

Oct 20 – MCG Raft Debate, 5:30p.m., J. Harold Harrison, MD Educational Commons

Oct 21 – MCG White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena, 601 7th St, Augusta, GA 30901

Oct 27 – MCG Faculty Senate Meeting, noon, Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium

Nov 17 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium

Dec 1 – MCG Faculty Senate Meeting, noon, Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium