The medical community in Northwest Georgia has begun the process of offering instruction to medical students at its hospitals as is done already at satellite campuses in Savannah and Albany. Some hospital administrators have been more reluctant to welcome medical students.
“Rome has been incredible,” GRU lobbyist Michael Shaffer said.
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His comments came during a meeting with legislators from the Augusta area where GRU is based.
Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, noted that GRU’s campuses in Augusta and Athens and the satellite campuses broaden the political support for the university which can be critical to getting funding in the legislature.
“It helps Georgia Regents to have a presence all over the state,” he said.
For Georgia to produce more physicians, more hospitals need to offer residencies where they can gain hands-on instruction from local doctors who serve as faculty. Once the hospitals agree, there is a multiyear process to develop curriculum, sign up the local faculty and gain accreditation.
Gov. Nathan Deal has included money in his budget for next year to assist in the start-up costs of the Rome campus, but the routine operating costs not borne by the hospitals themselves will require an addition to the state budget
University officials, however, said money is in a separate budget.
Since the funds for the Northwest Georgia Clinical Campus are included in the university’s expansion budget, no request was made of the governor to include this item in his budget,” said Christen L. Carter, director of media relations for GRU. “Therefore, this does not present a problem and our plans for Northwest Georgia have not been altered.”
Additionally, Deal’s recommended budget includes a second yearly installment of $5 million for cancer-related research and $45 million in bonds to build a cancer research building in Augusta.
The budget does not include money for equipping the medical commons building in Augusta already being built. Construction was speeded up, and now it could be completed before the next fiscal year ends and another appropriation can be made.
“That’s something that really scares us,” Shaffer said.