UGA breaks ground on state’s second public medical school

Governor Brian Kemp was in his hometown Friday for a groundbreaking on Prince Avenue in Athens.

The University of Georgia will have, in 2026, its own standalone medical college, phasing out over the next two years its partnership with Augusta University.

Gov. Kemp was slated to take part in the afternoon ceremony on UGA’s Health Sciences Campus.

The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents voted earlier this year on creating a new independent School of Medicine in Athens, making it the second public medical school in the state, according to a statement by the university.

The university said the news comes as Georgia’s population has “surged,” causing the state’s existing medical infrastructure to be strained while attempting to care for new and old residents, adding to wait times and reducing access to care.

UGA officials said the state has the eighth-highest population, with more population growth expected. At the same time, about a third of the state’s licensed physicians are nearing retirement.

“This is a very important decision by the Board of Regents and a historic moment for our state and university,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said following the vote in February. “As a land-grant and sea-grant research university, our commitment to Georgia is unwavering, and the new University of Georgia School of Medicine will expand our positive impact on Georgians in many critical ways.

“The School of Medicine will significantly expand the pool of medical professionals in Georgia, attract more top-tier scientists and researchers to the state, and produce more physicians to serve underserved and rural Georgia communities.”

Since 2010, UGA and Augusta University have operated a medical partnership to educate physicians in Athens. It is currently the longest-serving medical partnership in the U.S., according to UGA.

“UGA will continue to work closely with the Medical College of Georgia to ensure a smooth transition for current medical students as UGA seeks accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education,” university officials said.

Dr. Shelley Nuss, the campus dean at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, said she was excited for the expansion of medical education offerings now authorized by the Board of Regents.

“By expanding the pipeline of students in medical education, the UGA School of Medicine will help Georgia produce more highly trained physicians, alleviating physician shortages and improving the state’s ability to provide quality health care for its citizens,” Nuss said.

The UGA provost said the creation of the school will help grow Georgia’s ability to provide medical care to residents.

“The UGA School of Medicine will help address the health care needs of Georgia while also serving as a springboard for economic development that advances our state,” UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jack S. Hu said. “The school will attract additional researchers and scientists as well as biomedical companies and startups, fueling discovery and commercialization that create new opportunities for Georgians.”





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