Ward Named Program Director for Internal Medicine Residency Program

AU/UGA Medical Partnership contact: Lindsey Derrick

706-713-2637 – lderrick@uga.edu


St. Mary’s contact: Mark Ralston

706.389.3897 – mralston@stmarysathens.org


Lela Ward, MDAthens, GA – Dr. Lela Ward will take on the role as Program Director for the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership’s Internal Medicine Program at St. Mary’s Hospital, effective July 15, 2021.

Ward, MD, FACP, a board-certified internist, hospitalist, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has been part of the Internal Medicine Program since its inception in 2015, serving as one of its core faculty members.

Ward will take over the role after the departure of Dr. Achilia Morrow. Morrow was with the program for four years—she first served as Associate Program Director in 2016 before moving to Program Director in August of 2017. Dr. Andy Albritton has served as interim since March 2021 after Morrow departed the position for Baylor University.

“I want to thank Dr. Achilia Morrow for her service to the Internal Medicine Program,” said Medical Partnership Campus Dean Dr. Shelley Nuss. “She led the program through the challenges of the pandemic and advanced the program during her tenure. I’d also like to give a special thanks to Dr. Albritton for his recent service as the Interim Program Director and chair of the search committee.”

“Given that Dr. Ward’s service with the hospitalist service at St. Mary’s has been exceptional, we anticipate that the partnership between St. Mary’s and the AU/UGA Medical Partnership will grow even stronger,” said Dr. Jason Smith, St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer. “With her outstanding clinical background and history of forming close cross-service relationships, we are confident that our residents and attending colleagues will come together to spark even greater levels of learning and understanding.”

During Ward’s time with the Internal Medicine Residency Program, she has served on the Clinical Competency Committee and the Program Evaluation Committee since 2015.  She has also been extensively involved in committee work at St. Mary’s Hospital, serving on the credentials committee, ethics committee and as Secretary of the Medical Executive Committee.

Ward also founded the Mentoring Program for Internal Medicine residents. She has mentored residents on poster sessions for the American College of Physicians (ACP) for the annual Georgia ACP Chapter meetings and also served as a judge for the resident poster sessions at the same meetings.  She was moved to Fellow status in the ACP in November 2020.

“Lela is excited to take on the reigns as the Program Director,” said Nuss. “She is committed to excellence and is a passionate medical educator. I’m confident that Dr. Ward will provide the leadership and has the skills to take the program to the next level.”

Ward grew up in Madison, Georgia, and attended Morgan County High School before attending the University of Georgia where she earned a BS in Genetics.  She then attended the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta for her MD degree before completing her Internal Medicine residency at Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, SC, where she also served as Chief Resident. She worked at Athens Hospital Services since 2014, and she currently resides in Athens with her husband Kyle and daughter Cora.

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