AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Right now there is a national shortage of medical staff.
Senator Jon Ossoff is especially concerned about the shortage of pediatric health care workers in Georgia and is working to remedy that.
“There’s a shortage of pediatricians and pediatric nurses as well as maternal health care specialists,” he said.
Senator Ossoff explained that as a new dad, the thought of children not having access to health care is troubling.
“My wife Alicia and I have a 7 month old baby daughter at home. And every parent’s worst fear is that there’s some kind of a medical emergency involving an infant child or a toddler and you can’t get access to the care that you need.
Out of Georgia’s 159 counties, 63 of them don’t have a pediatrician. In 2021 there were 76.2 pediatricians per 100,000 children in Georgia. That’s an average of more than 1,300 patients per doctor.
Senator Ossoff has a plan to help bring these doctors to those areas in the state with the most need.
“So, what I’m working to do is strengthen the National Health Service Corp, which sends doctors who specialize in, for example, pediatric and maternal health care, to work in rural areas and parts of our state, parts of the country where there’s a shortage of those professionals,” he said.
Dr. Valera Hudson is the Pediatrician in Chief at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. She told NewsChannel 6 that the Medical College of Georgia has a higher national average of students going into pediatrics, but that there is a reason those numbers are so low.
“The challenge is that next stage, the training stage. So, Georgia is lagging a bit in the number of residency slots, specifically for pediatrics,” Dr. Hudson explained.
According to Dr. Hudson, one reason students don’t go into pediatrics, which is part of primary care, is because the money is better in specializing.
“Identifying those students early, putting them into a curriculum where they can finish medical school in three years, which saves them a year of tuition, and offer them the opportunity for scholarships either through medical school or through the program Senator Ossoff is looking to expand, to deal with their tuition debt,” She said.
Dr. Hudson thinks Senator Ossoff’s plan is a great step in the right direction in helping to bring more pediatricians to Georgia.
Photojournalist: Will Baker.