St. Mary’s, Medical Partnership to host seminar for new teaching hospitals

Athens, Ga. - In an effort to help Georgia hospitals better address the state's ongoing physician shortage, St. Mary's and the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership will host a seminar about Graduate Medical Education (GME) on Dec. 10 for new teaching hospitals in the state.

GME is the formal term for residency, the final stage of a physician's required education. Before a medical school graduate can be licensed to practice independently and become board certified, they must complete a minimum of a 3-year residency in a hospital under the direct supervision of physician faculty. At the end of the program, residents can take their board certification exam and enter independent practice, or continue with further education in a subspecialty.

"Creating additional GME programs is vital to alleviating Georgia's physician shortage," says Shelley Nuss, MD, campus associate dean for GME and DIO at the Medical Partnership in Athens. "Georgia ranks 41st in the nation in the ratio of active primary care physicians to population. GME can help bridge that gap. Studies show that about 70 percent of physicians choose to practice in the state where they complete their residency."

"Creating a residency program is a major challenge for any hospital, but it can be done," says Bruce Middendorf, MD, St. Mary's Chief Medical Officer. "St. Mary's and our partners at the Medical Partnership are eager to share the experience we gained through the successful launch of our internal medicine residency program with other Georgia hospitals."

More than 40 people from every corner of the state are expected to attend the Dec. 10 seminar, which is the first such gathering since Georgia began focusing on creating new residencies several years ago. Attendees will include GME physician leaders, program directors and coordinators, hospital financial and legal experts, as well as representatives from the Georgia Board of Regents, the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, the Medical Partnership, and St. Mary's. Up to 3 hours of CME credit will be available for physicians who attend.

New GME programs are in place or under development at 11 Georgia hospitals from Athens to Moultrie, and additional hospitals are considering launching programs in the near future. Some 215 new residency positions have been approved by the ACGME in Georgia over the past three years, more than halfway to the state's goal of 400 new positions.

A key challenge for new teaching hospitals is finding a way to cover the expenses of a GME program. To help them, a highlight of the seminar will be "Navigating the Medicare Maze for New Teaching Hospitals," a two-part presentation by leaders in GME and CMS reimbursement law from the Dentons US LLP law firm. Featured presenters from the firm's Washington, DC, office will be Holley Lutz and Lori Mihalich-Levin, partners at Dentons who focus on Medicare and Medicaid coverage and reimbursement counseling, and Summer Martin, an Atlanta-based member of Dentons Life Sciences and Health Care practice who focuses on health reform and regulatory compliance.

The seminar also will include an update by Dr. Nuss on the progress of GME expansion in Georgia, as well as ample opportunity for attendees to share best practices, challenges, and successes with each other.

St. Mary's and the AU/UGA Medical Partnership launched Northeast Georgia's first GME program on July 1, 2015, filling all 10 first-year slots. More than 1,800 applications have been received for the 10 slots that will be filled next July at the start of the program's second year. The program's final 10 positions will be filled in 2017, creating a three-year rotation in which 30 residents will have progressive responsibility and independence.

The seminar will include lunch and refreshments during breaks. It will be held at St. Mary's Hospital, 1230 Baxter Street, Athens, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The seminar is free, but enrollment is limited and registration is required. For more information, contact Chrys Moore, St. Mary's Medical Education Coordinator, at 706.389.3848 or by email at cmoore@stmarysathens.org.

St. Mary’s contact: Mark Ralston 706.389.3897 - mralston@stmarysathens.org

AU/UGA Medical Partnership contact: Alison McCullick 706.713.2183 - amccull@uga.edu