MCG launches loan program to attract more students and healthcare workers
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – The Medical College of Georgia (MCG) is researching new ways to improve access to healthcare and hire more healthcare workers in South Georgia.
Congressman Sanford Bishop spent Monday touring the southwest campus of the Medical College of Georgia in Albany. He heard about the strategies the college is using to keep more health care workers in rural areas.
Bishop said healthcare workers have always been important, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how much southwest Georgia needs more doctors.
One of the ways MCG is working to keep physicians in South Georgia is through a new program called the 3+ Program. This is an incentive program that offers a loan discount if students stay and work in an underserved rural area of Georgia.
“One year for one year for their residency training here as well as if they stay in an underserved area or a rural area that needs a doctor. They can get a one-year loan forgiveness, ”Bishop said.
Bishop said this initiative will interest more graduates in healthcare because they won’t pay as much for their education.
The program is funded by federal grants and private donations.
Another important form of health care for rural Georgia is telemedicine, a way for people living in rural areas to get expert help virtually.
The Medical College Of Georgia offers two new telehealth programs, Ultrasound and Dermatology. Programs funded by federal grants through the US Department of Agriculture.
Doug Patten, associate dean of the Albany campus, said primary care providers in rural Georgia will be able to get feedback from their Augusta hospital in seconds.
Patton said getting timely feedback can be life-changing for someone who has a spot on their skin that could be melanoma.
“The ability to get an almost instant second opinion while the patient is still in the doctor’s office on whether or not this is something that needs a biopsy or not. The likelihood of it being fatal cancer or not is incredibly helpful, ”Patten said.
Patton said this telehealth option saves patients the hassle of driving hours to get specialist advice.
Federal funds for telehealth, Patton said, can also be spent on technology, more equipment and investments in better Internet access.
Congressman Bishop said he hopes the types of grants that help fund these programs will be renewed to continue to provide better health care.
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