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GMC residency program hopes to fill projected doctor gap

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett Medical Center is moving forward with a program that could pay big dividends as the county stares down a shortage of physicians.

The hospital announced this week the hiring of Dr. Mark Darrow as the director of its upcoming graduate medical education (GME) program -- the process everyday folks would know as "residency" for new graduates of med school. It's the latest step toward the ultimate goal of feeding doctors directly into the Gwinnett area.

"I believe we'll be very successful in this hospital system and this community, and also be successful in attracting folks who will stay in this area," Darrow said. "This is really going to work. This is a community that's ready to do this."

GMC officials plan to have residency programs in internal and family medicine up and running by July 2014. The goal, Darrow said, is to have five residents per program per year over the first three years. That would mean that, beginning in 2017, an average of 10 newly trained physicians would be released into the workforce each year.

It's a start toward solving the riddle presented by projections that Georgia will fall some 5,000 doctors short of demand by the year 2030, a grim prospect that Gwinnett's future is not immune to.

Jann Moore, the Gwinnett Chamber's vice president of public policy and education, said studies have been completed more locally and that more doctors are "an obvious need."

Thomas Shepherd, Gwinnett Medical's senior vice president for planning and development, echoed the sentiment.

"Several years ago we actually did a study here in our community on physician workforce to see where we were missing some opportunities," Shepherd said. "We discovered during that time that there would be quite a deficit of primary care physicians."

A survey of 2011 GME program graduates by the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce showed that more than 40 percent had practice plans within 60 miles of their residency training program. More than 27 percent planned to stay in the same city or county.

"Where they train is where they want to come back to," Shepherd said. "Face it, they're already spending a lot of time there."

In Georgia (and Gwinnett), that could be considered a problem.

Data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges put Georgia as the 41st-ranked state in the country in terms of number of resident physicians per 100,000 population. Georgia's rate of 20 residents per 100,000 -- a total of about 2,300 for the 2011-12 school year -- is well short of the national average of 35.8.

The state would need to add more than 1,500 residency positions this year to meet the national average.

Gwinnett Medical Center isn't going to solve the whole issue by itself, but it's trying.

"What the public will see eventually is more primary care access in this community," Shepherd said. "That's really our whole purpose for doing this, long term."

Darrow, a physician with a long history in primary care who was most recently vice president for graduate medical education at New Hanover Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., officially began his role at GMC on Monday. He said his first steps will be finding other directors, coordinators and instructors. There is a lot of accreditation and red tape to be sifted through before residents start walking the halls of Gwinnett Medical, but officials believe it will be worth it.

Especially in the long run.

Said Moore: "There's a ripple effect from an economics standpoint when you are able to retain those physicians."

Comments

TOWG 1 year, 6 months ago

I applaud GMC for it's efforts to bring more needed physicians to Gwinnett. It's a shame all their hard work is being undermined and eventually torpedoed by Obamacare. Docs are planning on leaving the field in droves and new replacements are just not going to be there. How are a dwindling number of medical professionals going to provide service to an exploding number of patients at anywhere close to the level of service we have now?

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Why_not 1 year, 6 months ago

That's odd.....I haven't seen where any doctors have said they are quitting their profession because of the affordable care act. .???

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TOWG 1 year, 6 months ago

My kids told me about this thing called Google. I used it. www.politifact.com/.../gop-lawmaker-j...... Check it out!

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 6 months ago

yep, because most physicians would publically declare that they were going to quit and possibly blowout their practices. smart one "why not".

you'll see the older docs leaving earlier than they wanted to and you'll see fewer qualified candidates even bothering with med school.

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kevin 1 year, 6 months ago

they will be quitting the acceptance of Medicare patients. You missed the boat TOWG!

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Mack711 1 year, 6 months ago

My doctor for one has told our family that when and if Obamacare is in place he will retire and leave the profession. He says that he can not run a sucessful practice with what Obamacare is willing to pay. The ones who are in school now probably will stay but will never make enough to pay the student loans and other cost associated with the education process.

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Why_not 1 year, 6 months ago

According to you're source, "Politifact," only 4.3 % of doctors surveyed even responded to the survey. 83% responded that Obamacare made them "think" about quitting their profession. That's hardly a good scientific survey. Go back and re-read your source. By the way, the survey was conducted by. "anti-Obamacare group...go figure...haha

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 6 months ago

you won't be laughing in 5 years

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Why_not 1 year, 6 months ago

Typical TEApublican response......

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Say_that_again 1 year, 6 months ago

How gullible people are! Have any of you listened to Romney? He wants to replace it with Romneycare which includes all the major points of Obamacare. It isn't that he doesn't like the plan, he just wants his name on it! With or without the medical mandates, some doctors will consider leaving the occupation. The main causes are loss of competence (or confidence) and high insurance costs. With an average annual income of doctors that exceeds $250,000, they are not leaving the profession because of income loss. Some doctors would threaten to leave just to influence people with meaningless polls.

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kevin 1 year, 6 months ago

Sorry you have to inject your sorry comments that have left out all the facts of Romney's health plan just for his state. Voting A B O. (anybody but Obama)

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kevin 1 year, 6 months ago

I just wish GMC would have more "staff" personnel instead of using so many outside contractors. Their current practice at GMC is costing people a lot of money. This is why I switched to Emory. It is billed 100% as staff (under the Emory name) to the insurance companies. (in-network as opposed to out-of-network prices)

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OedipusTax 1 year, 6 months ago

The ignorance of some of the posters above about the costs of doctors is astounding. Obamacare was passed by liberals. Liberals love lawyers and government. Thus, nothing was done to stop the lucrative lawsuits that doctors face that make lawyers billions. Yes, billions! My college roommate is a ESN surgeon. Just his liability insurance expenses are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The profound ignorance, arrogance and greed of liberals on the subject of health care is truly outrageous. They wish to make health care "affordable" while making lawyers and polticians rich. Finally, it was "affordable housing" legislation that drove our economy into the dumper. "Affordable healthcare" legislation will do the same to medicla care that was done to housing.

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