Medical College of Georgia students experience local sights, tastes during tour of Albany

Oct. 3—ALBANY — A group of 36 first-year medical students got a taste of southwest Georgia on Monday, with a barbecue lunch, stops at local attractions and a downtown Albany ice cream shop.

The trip was an introduction to the Medical College of Georgia's Southwest Campus, located across the street from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. The students also visited Chehaw Park & Zoo and the Flint RiverQuarium on the first of two days in the city.

"It's a beautiful area, and I can see people wanting to be where there's no traffic," Claire Gallion, a student from Marietta, said. "The people are really friendly. I love the zoo. I like that people are proud of their wildlife."

Gallion, who is considering pediatrics but also geriatrics and internal medicine for her specialty, also took a liking to the people she met on the tour.

"The important things in life are people and purpose and families, and you have all of that here," she said.

There are about 30 third- and fourth-year students at the campus in Albany, and about 75 students from the Augusta campus are typically in training at local hospitals at any given time, Dr. Doug Patten, associate dean of the Albany campus, said.

"Many of them (students) have never been in Albany, and many have never even been in southwest Georgia," he said. "What we're trying to do is give them exposure to the community, trying to show them some of the unique features.

"It's just making them aware of some of the unique things about Albany, so if they do come here for their clinical work, they know kind of what's available in the community."

Smaller cities offer more opportunities for interaction and one-on-one work with doctors than is the case in larger locations, Patten noted, which he said can be beneficial to students.

For Caleb Bacok, the black rhinos at Chehaw were impressive.

"I was surprised," he said. "That's the closest I've ever been to a rhino. Over here (RiverQuarium) I really enjoyed the alligator snapping turtle."