When considering building a medical school in rural, South Georgia, PCOM knew it needed community, regional and state-wide partners. In addition to the need for community and governmental support, the College also needed clerkship sites and residency programs. It’s because of these partnerships that PCOM South Georgia was able to open its doors in 2019.
With a focus on filling the need for physicians in rural and underserved areas, PCOM South Georgia partnered with hospitals and health systems across the region to teach Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine students.
South Georgia Medical Center (Valdosta), Colquitt Regional Medical Center (Moultrie), Archbold Medical Center (Thomasville), Tift Regional Medical Center (Tifton) and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (Albany) are the primary teaching hospitals in the region that train PCOM South Georgia’s DO students during their third- and fourth-year clerkships.
During those years, students work in a clinical setting with physicians who oversee and supervise their education and training–their preceptors. They rotate through core specialties including internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/Gyn), pediatrics, osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), psychiatry and surgery in offices, clinics and hospitals. Rural/underserved and emergency medicine clerkships are completed in the fourth year, in addition to audition rotation electives for residency positions.
Then, after graduating from medical school, students must complete residency programs. The specialized programs can last 3-7 years. Within the South Georgia region, three hospitals offer residency programs. After completing medical school at PCOM South Georgia, students can complete an internal medicine residency at SGMC or Archbold or choose to pursue a family medicine or psychiatry residency at CRMC.
Marla Golden, DO ’88, is the Associate Dean of Clinical Education for PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia and the Chair of Clinical Education for PCOM South Georgia. She said having these partnerships is crucial to training and retaining the frontlines of health right here in South Georgia.
“Once our students graduate, they need somewhere to continue their education, and many of them want to do that right here in South Georgia,” she said. “If we want our students to stay here after graduation, having residency programs in the area is absolutely necessary. There are a number of studies that show medical students are more likely to practice medicine in the area that they complete their residency.”
With that information in mind, Dr. Golden and the clinical education team are actively working to recruit more partners in the Southeast to become core clerkship sites–health systems that take a large number of medical students for clerkship rotations–and she’s hoping more hospitals will work to establish residency programs.
“It benefits our entire region when we are able to recruit, train and retain medical students who are from this area and want to practice in this area,” she said. “We just have to provide them with the opportunities to do so.”