Deal signs medical school scholarship legislation

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ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Wednesday to expand a scholarship program that will enable more medical students to practice in high-need areas.

The legislation calls for some Georgia Medical Student Scholarship recipients entering certain primary care and specialized medical practices to work in underserved areas with a high level of need, Deal said in a written statement. The scholarship program provides up to $20,000 to qualified state residents to help pay the costs of medical school, Deal said.

“Georgia’s Medical Student Scholarship program allows for us to retain our best and brightest medical doctors while also increasing access to quality medical care in Georgia’s most rural areas,” Deal said. “No medical student educated in Georgia should find themselves without job opportunities in their home state after graduation.”

Deal says the law will change how state agencies classify underserved areas that students will work in, which pleased the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, the group tasked with defining the areas of Georgia that scholarship recipients will be able to work in.

“With the many changes to healthcare since the beginning of the scholarship program in 1952, scholarship recipients entering certain primary care and other critical need specialties are finding it harder to establish a practice in the rural counties of Georgia as is currently required by the law governing the program,” Cherri Tucker, executive director of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, said in a written statement.

The commissioners of the Department of Community Health and the Department of Public Health commissioners will be responsible for approving the regions, Deal said.

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