‘Top Docs’ show highlighting Georgia Board for Physician Workforce now online     

The latest episode of the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) ‘Top Docs Radio’ show featuring the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce (GBPW) – which addresses the state’s physician workforce needs by “supporting and developing medical education programs” – is now online. The show features GBPW Immediate-past Chair Mark Hanly, M.D.

“In a survey that we conducted in 2016, the Board determined that medical residents in the state have an average debt of $90,000 to $355,000,” reports Dr. Hanly. “In fact, one resident reported having debt totaling $500,000.”

GBPW administers “service-cancelable loan repayment programs” for physicians and other health care professionals – including dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses – to pay debts that are associated with tuition, fees and other expenses that is related to the completion of one the aforementioned degrees. The practitioners who take advantage of one of these programs agree to practice full-time in an underserved area or rural county in Georgia with a population of 35,000 or less, and keeping in mind that 109 of the state’s 159 counties are in rural areas. 

“The Board also conducts research and produces reports and fact sheets on Georgia’s physician workforce and medical education infrastructure,” says GBPW Executive Director LaSharn Hughes. “This provides policymakers and other key stakeholders with credible information to assess Georgia’s health care needs from a workforce perspective.”

GBPW’s research looks at growth trends in the physician workforce; how the medical education system impacts these growth trends; the presence of shortages or surpluses in various physician specialties and related distribution problems; the impact of market forces on the physician workforce; the benefits of various responses to any imbalances between physician supply and need; and the effectiveness of the programs that GBPW funds.

GBPW also has contracts with the Mercer University School of Medicine and the Morehouse School of Medicine, which Dr. Hanly points out, “Must ensure that at least 50 percent of their graduates enter residencies in primary care and other core specialties.” Both schools rank in the top 10 of the nation’s 126 medical schools in the number of graduates who enter primary care.

And Hughes explains that, “Because medical students who grew up in Georgia are more likely to practice medicine in the state, the Board provides some funds for the state’s private medical schools, which are then required to enroll a certain number of students from Georgia and must ensure that at least 50 percent of their graduates enter primary care and other core specialty residencies.” 

Finally, Dr. Hanly notes that the Board is taking steps to ensure that there are enough primary care and other physician specialists in Georgia through its partnerships with the state’s designated teaching hospitals and graduate medical education (residency training) programs.

He says that, “Since graduates of residency training programs are more likely to establish practice within 50 miles of their training program, the Board provides funds to offset the costs of training physicians in some of Georgia’s teaching hospitals. These contracts stipulate that at least 50 percent of these graduates practice in Georgia.”

GBPW has 15 members, including five primary care physicians, five non-primary care physicians, three hospital representatives, and two consumers – and about half of them are from rural areas.

MAG sponsors the ‘Top Docs’ program twice a month. Between downloads and live listeners, it has now reached nearly 30,000 listeners – which includes people in all 50 states and 84 countries.

MAG’s ‘Top Docs Radio’ show is supported with a grant from Health Care Research, a subsidiary of Alliant Health Solutions. 

Listen to "Georgia Board for Physician Workforce" on Spreaker.