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AU/UGA Medical Partnership and St Mary’s Hospital Undergo ACGME Site Visit

In a major step toward developing Athens’ first medical residency program, Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s Health Care System ’s Internal Medicine Program underwent a site visit on Wednesday, Oct. 23, by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  The site survey occurred at St. Mary’s Hospital, the Major Participating Site for the new Internal Medicine program.

The ACGME site survey assessed compliance with all applicable policies and procedures for residency training in Internal Medicine.  Plans call for 10 Internal Medicine residents to begin their graduate medical education (GME) at St. Mary’s in July 2015, with the program growing to as many as 30 residents by 2017.  Final word on accreditation of the program is expected in spring 2014 when the ACGME will review the report filed by the ACGME site surveyor and all other materials related to the application.

Residency is the final step of a physician’s formal education.  It takes place in teaching hospitals, which create programs that allow residents to practice medicine under the supervision and instruction of fully licensed physicians.

“All the hard work of many individuals is making the Internal Medicine program a reality for St. Mary’s, the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and the Athens community,” said Bruce F. Middendorf, M.D., St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer and director of the system’s GME program.

“The ACGME site visit brings us one step closer to accreditation of the Internal Medicine Program,” said Michelle A. Nuss, M.D., Campus Associate Dean for GME at the Medical Partnership and the Designated Institutional Official for the GME program.  “This is a pivotal moment in our effort to advance medical education in the Athens area.  Initial feedback from the surveyor was very encouraging, and we are confident the program will begin on schedule. ”

Charlie Upchurch, chair of St. Mary’s Health Care System Board of Directors, noted that the residency program demonstrates the commitment of both institutions to taking a collaborative approach toward remedying Georgia’s physician shortage, especially in the specialty of primary care.

“Studies show that about 70 percent of physicians choose to practice in the communities where they complete their residency,” he said.  “This program will enable St. Mary’s to attract and retain more quality physicians to serve the greater Athens area.  We are excited to be moving forward with the Medical Partnership as we work to make quality health care more accessible to our community for decades to come.”