During a trip with Georgia House Rep. Ed Rynders (R-152), House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge, District 7) made a few pit stops in Albany, one of those being the two clinical campuses at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospitals.
The topic of discussion: Medical education.
"I wanted Speaker Ralston and Rep. Rynders to really see the benefits of a partnership a true partnership between a health care provider and two university system affiliates, university of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia," says Dr. Doug Patten, Sr. Vice President of Medical Affairs at Phoebe Putney.
Patton discussed their plans to expand graduate medical education from family medicine to internal medicine to OB-GYN to pediatrics.
These talking points brought up the need to have more similar programs within the state to retain medical students in the area after they graduate.
"I think that's absolutely key to training a workforce in health care that can deserve particularly underserved areas like we have here in this part of Southwest Georgia," says Ralston.
He says some medical students graduate and then leave the state to practice. Ralston says expanding medical educational opportunities will give the area more trained physicians and nurses.
"The state of Georgia is woefully understaffed relative to primary care physicians and that's particularly critical in the southern part of the state," says Patten. "One of the benefits of having medical education occur here is that if people train here they're more likely to return here to practice."
When it comes to healthcare, Ralston says there are real needs in rural Georgia that need to be addressed such as access to physicians and nursing care.