Georgia Health Sciences University
Most of the school's students are from Georgia; more than a quarter are minorities, and women make up more than two-thirds of the student body. GHSU offers advanced certificates as well as degrees ranging from baccalaureate to doctoral. The college operates additional clinical campuses in Albany and Savannah, as well as satellite nursing campuses in Athens and Columbus. In 2010 the school joined with the University of Georgia (UGA) to form a partnership, which resulted two years later in the opening of a new medical school campus in Athens.
Since the academy's program was limited to one year, the board of trustees investigated the possibility of transferring this credit to other nearby schools. It became clear that transfers would be difficult,
In 1833 the institute's name was changed to the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), and the state legislature granted funds to acquire adequate facilities. (The college's first building was designed by prominent Georgia architect Charles B. Cluskey.) In addition, the Academy of Richmond County donated property, faculty members contributed money for a library and museum, and the city of Augusta promised to pay the college in return for medical services for the indigent. Besides this funding, MCG was a proprietary institution, dependent on tuition and fees.
During the antebellum years, the college struggled regularly with weak finances and increasing competition (both for students and faculty) from new medical schools in Georgia, several of which opened in the 1850s. (Among these was the Atlanta Medical College, the forerunner of Emory University School of Medicine.) Yellow fever outbreaks in 1839 and 1854 delayed the beginning of those academic years, but the college continued to grow in spite of such challenges and in the 1850s awarded about fifty medical degrees annually. The library and museum were of high caliber for the era, and students received ample clinical exposure. Members of the college's faculty were also responsible for the publication of the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal, a distinguished scholarly publication of its time.
Inclusion in the University of Georgia
The closing years of the century were a time of difficult growth for the institution. The field of medicine was expanding more rapidly than the college, and although courses in bacteriology, histology, and pathology were added, the school was unable to make large-scale changes, such as adding separate departments for dentistry and pharmacy. The city hospital was expanded, and in 1895 a new hospital for African Americans, Lamar Hospital, was built, providing additional opportunities for clinical study.
Criticism of the initial ratings within the medical community caused the AMA to request that the Carnegie Foundation perform a new survey of medical schools, headed by Abraham Flexner. Flexner's 1910 report was anything but complimentary of the college. He criticized its buildings as dirty, inadequately equipped, and lacking clinical facilities; declared the library to be antiquated; and described the
As the Great Depression decreased state revenues, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted in 1933 to eliminate eight schools, including the Medical Department, from the university system. The school immediately campaigned to prove its importance to the state and its willingness to make any necessary changes, and within a month it had been restored to the Regents' list for another year under the name of the University of Georgia School of Medicine, with the understanding that the college would solve some of its most troubling problems. But the school's troubles were far from over. In 1934 the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals revoked its "A" rating, and the AAMC dropped the college from membership.
The school responded by establishing fellowships, adding new buildings and an addition to University Hospital, and persuading the Board of Regents to increase the college's appropriations. The college was then able to persuade the council to return the hospital's "A" rating and to rejoin the AAMC. Increasing financial support from the Board of Regents and the governor allowed the school to stabilize and eventually to increase class sizes. One victim of the crisis was the innovative School of Public Health, which ceased offering degrees in 1932 after existing for only ten years. The campus was kept busy during World War II (1941-45) as both the army and navy established training programs at the school, but the most important changes came during the following decade.
Renewed Institutional Independence
In 1956, the same year Talmadge Hospital was completed, the School of Nursing was moved from Athens to Augusta. The nursing school was founded at UGA in 1943 but continued to flourish following its transfer to MCG, and in 1974 a satellite campus in Athens was opened. A master's in nursing program was approved in 1966, and the first doctorates in nursing were awarded in 1990. Nursing was not the only area of expansion for MCG. The college had offered master's degrees since 1951, and in 1965 it added the School of Dentistry. In 1968 a new School of Allied Health was established from existing programs, including medical illustration, medical technology, radiology, and health information. The addition of these departments transformed MCG from a simple school of medicine into a true health sciences university.
In 2000 MCGHealth, Inc., a nonprofit organization, took over management of the college's hospital and clinic facilities. The move was intended to give the hospitals greater financial flexibility, but the Board of Regents maintained ownership of the property, and MCG faculty and students continued to practice and train in the facilities. In 2010 a new administrative entity called MCG Health System, Inc., headed by incoming MCG president Ricardo Azziz, was created to oversee both MCGHealth and the Physicians Practice Group, which manages billing and insurance issues.
MCG continued to grow in the new millennium. The School of Dentistry broke ground for a new building in September 2009, and that same year MCG introduced "MCG Mobile," a set of innovative and customizable iPhone applications for the health sciences. The applications include medical calculators, a medical glossary, and a cholesterol management algorithm.
In 2010 MCG's Georgia School of Nursing received a federal grant of nearly $1 million to train additional nurses in acute and critical care. The school's name changed to Georgia Health Sciences University in February 2011.
As part of an initiative to help meet Georgia's need for physicians, GHSU and UGA formed a partnership to establish a new campus in Athens. This collaboration came to be known as the Georgia Health Sciences/University of Georgia Medical Partnership, and in January 2012 the UGA Health Sciences Campus opened on the grounds of the former Navy Supply Corps School.
GHSU is active in medical research and works to encourage cooperation between basic and clinical scientists. The school has discovery institutes in five areas: brain and behavior, cardiovascular, diabetes and obesity, immunologic, and vision science. Each institute brings together physicians and scientists to jointly study a medical topic. The five subject areas were chosen to reflect GHSU's overall research emphases and to address common health needs of Georgia residents.
Phinizy Spalding, The History of the Medical College of Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987).
Esther K. Giezendanner, University of Georgia
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.