January 26, 2024

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Thank you for your support before, during and after LCME visit

This week, after a two-year extensive self-study that, in the wise words of our former vice dean Dr. Rhee Fincher is “a marathon, not a sprint,” we hosted a six-member survey team from the LCME, the accrediting body for the nation’s medical schools. Their visit gave us the opportunity to spotlight the many incredible strengths of MCG, which I believe lies in all of you, our inspiring educators, clinicians, scientists, staff, students, residents and fellows. I want to take time to personally thank our LCME executive leadership team – Vice Dean, Dr. Mike Brands; Dr. Andria Thomas, our senior associate dean for evaluation, accreditation and CQI; Dr. Ashley Saucier, assistant dean for evaluation, accreditation and CQI; and Dr. Ruchi Patel, our basic science faculty lead – for their outstanding work preparing us for this every 8-year-visit. Thank you, as well, to the members of our self-study committees and to the countless faculty and staff who met with the team throughout the survey, many who drove long distances and some who even flew to get here, as well as those of you who worked so hard in the months and years leading up to this site visit. Your contributions to your medical school are truly invaluable and appreciated. We hope to hear early results from our visit in the coming weeks but do not expect a final report until July.

Department of Family and Community Medicine’s Osteopathic Family and Community Medicine Residency program gains accreditation from ACGME

While we’re on the topic of accreditation, I wanted to share the good news that our Department of Family and Community Medicine’s Osteopathic Family and Community Residency Program recently received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which sets and monitors voluntary professional educational standards for residency programs. This important step is “acknowledgment by the national accrediting agency that we are doing all the right things,” says department chair Dr. Dean Seehusen. Working in tandem with our larger allopathic family medicine training program, programs like ours, with osteopathic recognition, demonstrate commitment to continuing osteopathic graduate medical education for DO residents and opportunities for allopathic (MD) residents to become certified in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and Osteopathic principles.

Skills are taught to both osteopathic and allopathic residents, a unique factor that makes our residency program one of only three like it in the state of Georgia and of only a handful in the country. This new recognition from the ACGME also makes our Family and Community Medicine Residency Program attractive to both MD and DO residents — showing DOs the department is dedicated to osteopathy and osteopathic muscular therapy, or OMT, and allowing MDs to become certified in OMT. It’s a win-win for all our family and community medicine residents and for their future patients. My congratulations to Dr. Seehusen and Dr. Shirley Sharp, the director of the osteopathic residency program.

Peach State Health Plan commits additional $2 million to 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program

Frontline primary care physicians, like the ones educated by our family and community medicine residency program, are an essential part of ensuring a healthier Georgia, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Countless studies show that for every primary care physician you add, you save millions in health care costs because you can find disease earlier and you prevent disease when care is not haphazard. Studies have also shown that having more primary care physicians is associated with lower mortality rates, never mind better quality of life. That’s part of the reason that we established the MCG 3+ Primary Care Pathway Program, which, as you know, allows some of our students to complete medical school in three years, enter a primary care residency and then commit to serve an underserved area of Georgia, in exchange for a scholarship for their tuition. That program was made possible by an initial $5.2 million investment from Peach State Health Plan in 2021, and our first cohort of Peach State Scholars graduated in 2023. Along with matching state funds and other gifts from MCG donors we have been able to significantly grow that endowment over the last three years. We got another great boost this week when Peach State announced another $2 million funding commitment to the program. They also committed $200,000 to the Dental College of Georgia to help develop a loan forgiveness initiative for students who commit to practice for five years in rural and underserved areas. We are incredibly grateful to them, the State of Georgia and our great donors, for their continued partnership and commitment to helping us alleviate the significant health care shortages in our state.

First-year students, AHEC, teach local high school students about careers in medicine

Another key way we can help address the critical shortage of health care workers in our state is by creating and supporting pipeline programs that help steer high school and college students to these types of careers. As a great example of that, this week the Columbia County School System hosted its first ever health care expo for high school students, which gave them an opportunity to meet with practicing health care professionals, college admissions representatives and students who are currently enrolled in health care educational programs. I am proud to say that MCG was well represented there. Our Georgia Statewide Area Health Education Centers, which is headquartered here at MCG and, at its core, exists to help build and diversify the state’s health care workforce, actually co-sponsored the event. Also on hand to help man four physician booths were Dr. Lynn Coule, our assistant dean for student affairs and pre-clerkship class dean, who is no stranger to encouraging learners at every level, as well as six of our amazing first-year medical students — Rishab Chawla, Dhruti Trivedi, Dhruvi Paladiya, Saurabh Wakade and Avni Sawant. My thanks to all of you for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedules to inspire and educate those that will hopefully, one day, follow in your footsteps.

MCG Research Fair is planned for Feb. 5

As we wrap up this week, I wanted to remind you all that our Research Fair, where you can recruit some of our great students to your research projects, will be held, Monday, Feb. 5 from 5-7 p.m. in the lobby of the Harrison Commons. I can think of few better ways to impact and encourage the next generation than through mentorship. Students also bring a new level of excitement and insight to research teams. I hope you can join us. For more information about how to sign up, please reach out to Dr. Brittany Ange in our Educational Innovation Institute.

All my best to you,

Dean Hess Signature

David C. Hess, MD

Dean, Medical College of Georgia

Upcoming Events

Feb 5 – MCG Research Fair, 5-7pm, J. Harold Harrison, MD Education Commons Lobby

Feb 16 – MCG State of the College Address, noon, Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium

Mar 15 – MCG Match Day, 11 am, SRP Park

Mar 22 – MCG Faculty Senate Meeting, noon, Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium