Moultrie, Georgia — A celebration in honor of three new medical residents was held Tuesday evening in Downtown Moultrie. At the event, Dr. Valerie Sherrer, Dr. Theja Lanka and Dr. Catie Duskin were introduced as the 2nd Class of Georgia South Family Medicine Residents. Sherrer and Lanka are both graduates of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Georgia Campus), and Duskin is a graduate of the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine. The residency program, which welcomed its first class in 2016, hosts three residents per year, with a total of nine at capacity.
“Building a family medicine residency at Colquitt Regional Medical Center was a direct response to the need to train and retain physicians that were interested in staying in the region to practice. Our first year of the Georgia South Residency Program has gone extremely well, and we are elated to be welcoming another group of physicians to the program this week,” said Colquitt Regional CEO Jim Matney. “We are committed to expanding opportunities in medical education to improve our physician workforce and better meet the health needs of this region.”
Residency programs are an important part of addressing the shortage of primary care doctors in Southwest Georgia. Research has shown that 65% of medical residents will stay and establish a medical practice within 100 miles of their residency program. For South Georgia, this new residency program is critical in addressing healthcare access and building a robust medical education pipeline. The Georgia South Family Medicine Residency is focused on teaching young doctors how to practice in rural areas.
“Our inaugural class has settled in nicely and we are excited to introduce the next class of residents to our medical staff and our patients,” said Dr. Kirby Smith, Director of the Georgia South Residency Program. “We are growing at a tremendous pace thanks to the hard work and commitment of our teaching faculty, the medical staff and our hospital administration. We will soon expand our resident compliment to 12 residents, accepting D.O.s and M.D.s, and fully expect this process to help correct the looming physician shortage in rural South Georgia.”
Working alongside Dr. Smith are Dr. Woodwin Weeks, Associate Director of Georgia South, and faculty members Dr. Melissa Cardwell and Dr. Nick Carden. Each of the faculty members was on hand Tuesday evening as the new residents were presented with an official Georgia South White Coat and pager. The residents are now officially part of the medical staff at Colquitt Regional and will begin seeing patients under the supervision of other physicians.
“This is another fantastic night for this community,” said Colquitt Regional Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Bass. “With the growth of Georgia South and now the plans for a medical school campus, our future is very bright. The real winners here are the individuals living in Southwest Georgia and the generations that are to come. We are laying the groundwork for many positive changes from improved quality of life to growth in economic development in our region.”
Many community leaders were in attendance Tuesday evening offering support for the program. Chamber of Commerce President Tommie Beth Willis also presented each of the residents with a large welcome basket full of gifts from local merchants and Chamber members.
The Georgia South Medical Residency Program is affiliated with Colquitt Regional, a 99-bed medical center located in Moultrie, Georgia. Colquitt Regional recently received their 6th consecutive “A” Hospital Safety Score from the Leapfrog Group, a national patient safety advocacy organization.