Dermatology: From Division to Department

The Medical College of Georgia has created its 23rd department, the Department of Dermatology, and named Dr. Loretta S. Davis its chair. The new department had been a division in the MCG Department of Medicine for the last 25 years.

“The restructuring of dermatology from a division to a department was a logical move, with much community and alumni support. The overwhelming number of programs, both in the Southeast and across the country, are departments and this will help us as we move forward and continue to recruit the highest caliber faculty and residents,” says Dr. David C. Hess, MCG dean. “As the longtime and beloved leader of the division, Dr. Davis was the obvious and easy choice. Not only is she a kind and skilled physician and excellent educator, who always puts residents and students first, but her long commitment to this medical school and our dermatology program is inspirational.”

“I think that there is a certain sense of pride that comes with being a department,” Davis says. “We wanted to be like the majority of the medical schools in the South and around the country and be our own department again. I think that the students knew, other faculty knew and we knew — maybe more than anyone else — that we would be stronger. For this administration to have confidence in our potential for growth is extremely appreciated. We couldn’t be more grateful for that support.”

While the department — and frankly, the specialty itself — have remained extremely competitive, Davis acknowledges that recruiting faculty, and keeping graduating residents on as faculty, has been more difficult as a division and hopes the move to department status will change that.

“When physicians are interested in academic dermatology, they will be highly sought after by multiple universities,” she says. “It’s hard to convince them to join a division where it’s perceived that faculty may have less autonomy in making decisions. This elevation to a department will allow us to recruit more faculty and be more competitive.”

She says the division’s small size — with just two full-time faculty and three part-time — has meant they have had to send residents to areas outside of Augusta and rely on other community providers to ensure that residents receive a broader educational experience. Patient care is also affected. “We’re sending patients away. Right now, if you call to schedule an appointment to see me, the wait time may be six months,” she says. “We need increased faculty size to serve the community and this institution. More dermatologists with subspecialty training are also needed to grow our consulting practice.”

A gift from an anonymous donor, establishing its first endowed chair, also will help grow the department, Davis says.

The Department of Dermatology, and its residency training program, were founded in 1967 with the recruitment of the late Dr. J. Graham “Skee” Smith as founding chair.

Davis was named section chief of the division in 2011, after serving as interim for a year. A faculty member since 1992, she has directed the Dermatology Residency Program since 2010. She also serves as a consultant/attending physician at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

She is a past recipient of MCG’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Patient Care and Exemplary Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching in Undergraduate Medical Education, as well as the Top Doctor in Augusta Award in Dermatology and Exceptional Women in Medicine Award, both from Castle Connolly.

She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Southeastern Consortium for Dermatology and hosted the group’s annual meeting at MCG in 2017. She is a member of the Augusta Dermatological Society, which she served as secretary/treasurer from 1993-2005, as well as the American Academy of Dermatology and the Georgia Society of Dermatologists.

Davis is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where she also completed both internal medicine and dermatology residencies.

To donate to the Department of Dermatology Endowed Chair, visit mcgfoundation.org and search Endowed Chair Dermatology.

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