On a sweltering morning in August, 40 bright-eyed and smartly dressed medical students watched their new dean as she paced left to right, locked eyes with each student and welcomed the inaugural class to a brand-new medical school campus.
Barbara L. Schuster, M.D., hired in 2008 by a high-level search committee at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, now leads the first satellite campus of the state’s oldest medical school. The MCG-UGA Medical Partnership, located at the University of Georgia in Athens, opened its doors Aug. 9, 2010.
One way to tackle Georgia’s worsening physician shortage is to increase medical school enrollment; adding 40 students in Athens is part of this strategy.
In addition to being the top administrator for this new venture, Schuster teaches at the medical school and at the School of Public Health. She consults for hospitals and is active with many medical committees and organizations. During her first year as dean, she also chaired the university-wide Campaign for Charities, a major fundraising campaign, as well.
“I don’t know how she does it,” said Danny Spollen, a first-year medical student who earned his undergraduate degree at Emory University.
Before becoming dean, Schuster, 60, spent one year as the Robert G. Petersdorf Scholar-in-Residence at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This was a sabbatical from her position as professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, where she had been since 1995.
“Barbara has deep roots in medical education, which is very exciting,” said Dr. Ron Cervero, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Education at UGA.
Born in Hazelton, Pa., Schuster earned her B.A in biology and M.S. in Science Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She spent one year teaching high school science before applying to University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, where she earned her M.D. and completed an internal medicine residency at the Associated Hospitals Program. From 1980 to 1995, she taught medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry.
Her husband, Richard J. Schuster, M.D., is also an internist. He is a health policy and management professor at UGA’s School of Public Health and heads a new certificate in global health program. The couple lives in Athens.