Six new family medicine physicians are addressed by Albany Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Hardy as part of their welcoming ceremony Wednesday. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials say nearly 70 percent of doctors completing the three-year program establish practices within 60 miles of Albany.
ALBANY, Ga. — Six new physicians were welcomed Wednesday at a reception in the lobby of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. The mostly young new doctors are the latest crop of residents here to complete their studies in family medicine prior to establishing their own practices.
Phoebe officials made clear their hope that, like most of the program graduates since 1996, the doctors will set up shop in Southwest Georgia.
Guest speakers at the ceremony included John Culbreath, former superintendent of the Dougherty County School System, Chris Hardy, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and special keynote speaker David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.
There was no residency program a Phoebe until the late 1980s, according to Joel Wernick, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Hospital.
“The idea of establishing a residency in Southwest Georgia was one that came from the Georgia Legislature, which had an interest in improving the quality of life for the citizens of this region,” Wernick said. “Basically, the entire General Assembly of the state of Georgia took action to work the partnership with our organization, working toward the goal of keeping 60 percent of our graduates within 60 miles of Albany. We’ve far exceeded that goal.”
As a part of Wednesday’s ceremony, the new physicians were presented their white coats and the promise of personal pagers.
“This is a big deal,” said Doug Patten, Phoebe’s chief medical officer. “We know that the white coat is something you’ve worn before, but it was a short coat and it meant that you didn’t have any authority or power and hardly any knowledge. Now you’ll have a little bit more power and knowledge, and the long white coat symbolizes a big step in that direction. The pager is another one of those items.”
Patten used the word “consecration” in referencing the coats and pagers, defining the word as “to take something and make it sacred, to make it mean more than the item itself.”
“When you get your pager, it means things are about to get real,” said Phillip Allen, vice president of the Phoebe Medical Staff. “This pager will come to symbolize the many people who will turn to you for hope, for compassion and, indeed, for life. All of these are reasons you became a doctor.”
At 50, Daryl Remick from Forsyth is easily the oldest of the doctors entering the three-year residency. After taking over his father’s farm and serving 24 years as a Marine, he said he came to realize he wanted to be a doctor. He’d finished college before entering the service but had to get another undergraduate degree then finish Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta.
“Going to school is easy,” Remick said. “It requires some discipline, but now that I was older, I had something to compare it to — I had true misery to compare it to, seven days a week on the farm.”
Remick said his first choice was to come to Albany. He’d done his medical rotations at Phoebe, he said, and liked the friendliness and small-town atmosphere in Southwest Georgia.