AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly allocated $8.7 million to a program that would cover tuition for medical students who commit to serving an underserved community. The Medical College of Georgia Foundation has matched that, continuing to build on the school's '3+ Primary Care Pathway.'

The pathway is focused on remedying the shortage of physicians being seen not only here in the CSRA but statewide. Ian Mercier, MCG Foundation President and CEO, explains how the program works. 

“Abbreviated medical school, so 3 years, with a commitment to serving in another part of the state for an additional three years. Three plus three,” he says. 

The program is set to have its first graduating class next year. Those students will exit school with no tuition debt due to their commitment to serving this community.

“You need to incentivize kids to do that because they’re going and looking for the highest paying jobs, specialties, etcetera,” Mercier says. 

The program started with eight Peach State Scholars, but now with the new $8.7 million dollars from the state, and a match of that from the MCG Foundation, they hope to grow the scholars to more than triple that.

“In order to populate those areas you need a large endowment to do that. Growing the endowment rapidly to move up to that fifty students a year was priority one,” Mercier says. 

Both the school and the foundation hope that putting resources into these underserved communities will have a ripple effect.

“Not only can these Physicians set up practice and start to help these underserved communities, and make a change there, but physicians are also an economic generator for communities,” Mercier says. 

A new cohort of scholars for the program will be selected later this month. 

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