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Resident Spotlight - Clay Hartley, MD

Dr. Clay Hartley loves southwest Georgia. “I’m as Moultrie as you can get,” the Colquitt County native said. From the time his parents brought him home as a newborn until he left home to attend the University of Georgia (UGA), he lived in the same house. “Moultrie is one of those really quality southern towns. It’s a good place to raise a family and a good place to be from,” Hartley said.

But Hartley doesn’t just want to be from southwest Georgia, he wants to be in southwest Georgia. “I’m very humbled to be in the position that I’m in, and I don’t take it lightly that I get to take care of people here. I’m really excited to be back in south Georgia.”

After earning his undergraduate degree, Hartley also obtained a master’s degree in Health Policy and Management from UGA and attended the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). During medical school he completed multiple clinical rotations at MCG’s Southwest Campus in Albany and became familiar with the Phoebe Family Medicine Residency (PFMR) program. “I got to know a lot of the faculty and staff, and I saw how the residents really seemed to enjoy coming to work and how much respect they got from the staff and patients. I really liked the program, and definitely saw myself being a part of it.”

That dream came true in June, when Phoebe welcomed Hartley and six other PFMR Class of 2020 members to Albany. “It’s been incredible so far.  The reception from the community blew me away,” Hartley said.

Hartley’s graduate studies focused on rural healthcare and rural hospital closures, and he is passionate about improving access to quality healthcare for people in our region. “I knew I wanted to be a practitioner in a rural area that a lot of physicians aren’t attracted to. I felt a connection to this area,” Hartley said. “As physicians, we’re leaders in our community. To be an ambassador and an advocate for your community in healthcare is very important.”

Hartley knows the PFMR program is preparing him to be that kind of physician and community leader. It is the only physician residency at Phoebe, so the residents don’t have to compete with others for hands-on experience. “In larger cities, you’d be behind residents in obstetrics or pediatric surgery. Here, I’m first in line,” Hartley said. “When you combine the quality of the community physicians and the quality of the program with the level of cases we work, I don’t think you can get a better quality experience. It’s a great place to learn.”

Hartley hopes his story will inspire younger south Georgians with an interest in medicine to follow in his footsteps and help fill the need for physicians in this area. It was the perfect path for him, and he hopes it will be for others as well. Hartley said, “I have to pinch myself every day when I wake up knowing I get to do what I’ve wanted to do for so many years.”