AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — MCG’s 3+program is designed to recruit, train and place more primary care physicians in underserved areas of Georgia.

“It’s allowing me to accomplish my goals in a shorter amount of time so that I can serve Georgians sooner,” said Michael Butler, a student pursuing Internal Medicine.

Students in the program were pinned Wednesday as they prepare to graduate in May 2024.

“Just the growing need of primary care physicians in rural– rural Georgia. I spent some time shadowing– actually– in some of these communities and I have found that patients will travel up to an hour to– you know– just to see their doctor,” Butler said. 

This group will be the second class to graduate from the program. The first group is in their final year of medical school.

Aside from what MCG 3+ can provide these soon-to-be doctors, the hope is it will provide areas that are lacking with access to medical care.

“By going to these rural communities and being a physician who’s taking an active role in establishing a practice in these communities– I hope to see these patients, you know, so that way they don’t have to go as far; that way they can have a doctor close by,” Butler said.

These students are already thinking about where they’ll be working once they finish medical school.

“Those in need and those who don’t have those resources are lacking so much more than, you know, some of these other areas of Georgia. So, the underserved populations do need the extra attention and care because they’re not getting it,” Reggie Benson Jr. student pursuing Emergency Medicine said.

Reggie D. Benson Jr. says his passion for the field is a driving force, but knowing that there are communities in critical need, is just that extra push.

“Just seeing patients when they’re vulnerable, when they need help and then having the ability to bring them that help is just substantial– it’s huge.”

Last year, Peach State Health Plan donated more than $5 million dollars to the program. The company’s CEO says it was an easy decision.

“It’s amazing to see these students want to commit themselves to some of the medical specialties that are in greatest need in our community,” Wade Rakes said.