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Founding dean named for new UGA School of Medicine

Dr. Shelley Nuss

By Mike Wooten/UGA Today

Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership, has been named founding dean of the University of Georgia School of Medicine.

Nuss has served as campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership since 2016. In her new role, she will lead the establishment of an independently accredited school of medicine on the campus of Georgia’s flagship university.

“The creation of the School of Medicine at the University of Georgia is an extraordinary milestone for our state and our institution, and we are grateful to the Governor, the Chancellor, the General Assembly, and the Board of Regents for their strong support,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “There is no one better equipped to lead this important initiative than Dr. Shelley Nuss, with her exemplary, widely recognized leadership in medical education. I look forward to working with her as we seek LCME accreditation and build an outstanding medical school in the coming years.”

The UGA School of Medicine will help address the state’s critical shortage of medical professionals. Georgia currently ranks No. 40 among U.S. states for the number of active patient care physicians per capita, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, while it ranks No. 41 for the number of primary care physicians per capita and No. 44 for the number of general surgeons per capita. The shortage of medical providers is particularly acute in rural and underserved communities.

“It’s an honor to serve as the founding dean of the UGA School of Medicine,” said Nuss. “The School of Medicine will build upon the strong foundation we have already established in Athens and will have a tremendous impact in addressing the ongoing physician shortage. I’m excited to lead this next chapter of medical education at the University of Georgia and look forward to collaborating with partners both on and off campus.”

The AU/UGA Medical Partnership established a regional medical campus in Athens in 2010, initially educating 40 students per class. During Nuss’ tenure as campus dean, the partnership has expanded its enrollment to 60 students per class and now enrolls a total of 240 students.

Campus Dean Dr. Shelley Nuss walks with President Jere W. Morehead in front of Winnie Davis Hall at the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership on the Health Sciences Campus. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

In 2023, the Medical Partnership’s Athens Free Clinic received the Star of Community Achievement award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for its efforts to address health disparities and provide health care to community members in need. The Athens Free Clinic is an integral part of the Medical Partnership’s community and population health curriculum and has provided over $738,000 of care to more than 2,800 patients since the clinic was created six years ago.

Nuss also has been instrumental in growing graduate medical education (GME) statewide through her work with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ GME expansion program. As chair of the GME Regents Evaluation and Assessment Team (GREAT) Committee since 2016, she has led the development of new residency programs across Georgia. By the time the project is completed in 2025, there will be nine new teaching hospitals, 31 new residency programs and nearly 800 new resident positions in the state.

Additionally, Nuss works closely with the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce and chairs the statewide Medical Education Advisory Committee, which advises the board on issues regarding Georgia’s medical education system. She also serves as co-chair of the Area Health Education Centers’ Statewide Primary Care Taskforce that is working to address the growing shortage of health care providers in rural areas.

“Dr. Nuss has expertly served as campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, and she has been a powerful advocate for expanding access to medical education in Georgia,” said S. Jack Hu, UGA’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Her experience as a leader in medical education and her work with the oldest public medical school in the state uniquely position her to lead UGA’s School of Medicine.”

Nuss joined the AU/UGA Medical Partnership in 2010 as an associate professor of internal medicine and psychiatry and associate dean for graduate medical education. In that role, she helped establish an internal medicine residency program in partnership with St. Mary’s Health Care System and supported Athens Regional Medical Center (now Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center) in the development of its residency programs.

Nuss is the recipient of several prestigious awards for leadership and teaching. In 2023, she received the Lamartine Hardman Cup from the Medical Association of Georgia. One of the organization’s highest honors, the award recognizes a physician who has solved a problem in public health or contributed to the science of medicine, including excellence in the field of medical education.

The Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians presented its Mark Silverman Award to Nuss in 2019. The award recognizes a physician who has demonstrated excellence in bedside skills and teaching and has served as an inspiration for younger physicians to advance their knowledge and training in medicine.

Nuss received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Purdue University and earned her M.D. from West Virginia University. She completed her residency at West Virginia University, where she served as chief resident in internal medicine and psychiatry.

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