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Residency Program Success Story Named 2017 Phoebe Physician of the Year

Albany, Ga. – Derek Heard, MD, was honored last night as the 2017 Phoebe Physician of the Year. The award honors a physician who exemplifies a compassionate commitment to improving the health and well-being of southwest Georgians. Dr. Heard is a family medicine physician at Phoebe Primary Care of Albany.

“Dr. Heard is one of our community’s finest and most dedicated physicians. He is a true healer who shows compassion and concern for his patients, even making the occasional house call,” said Suresh Lakhanpal, MD, president of Phoebe Physician Group.

Dr. Heard is a graduate of Phoebe’s Family Medicine Residency Program. He is a great example of the program’s success in improving access to primary care in Southwest Georgia. Over the last 24 years, the program has recruited dozens of excellent young physicians to study and then to practice medicine in southwest Georgia. “You are mentored by true men and women of the profession,” Heard said of the program. “They helped me understand what it really means to be a family physician and how to practice in this community.”

The goal of the residency program is to have 60% of graduates stay within 60 miles of Albany to practice. The program meets or exceeds that goal most years.

Heard was proud to complete his residency in the area where he grew up. “I love the city. Even though I felt I could go anywhere to practice, I wanted to stay close to home. Albany has a great medical community, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Heard said. He graduated from Lee County High School before attending Albany State University and the Medical College of Georgia.

Dr. Heard is the third recipient of Phoebe’s Physician of the Year award for providers employed by Phoebe Physician Group. Recipients are chosen by a committee from nominations made by patients, community members, and fellow employees throughout the health system. This year, 58 physicians were nominated.

“This award means a lot,” Heard said. “It’s nice when your colleagues recognize the work you do, especially at an organization that has so many great physicians. We don’t do this for the accolades but it’s nice when you do get recognized.”