(July 10, 2012) - A new three-year family medicine track for
students in Mercer University School of Medicine may be a key part
of Georgia's answer to a looming healthcare crisis. There is a
growing shortage of primary care physicians in the state's
medically underserved areas.
The program, offered only on Mercer's Savannah campus at
Memorial University Medical Center (MUMC), is one of only two such
programs in the U.S. The other active program is at Texas Tech
University in Lubbock. In Savannah, the track is linked to MUMC's
family medicine residency program.
The three-year track allows students to complete medical school
in three years instead of the usual four years. Graduates are able
to enter the work force a year earlier and save the cost of an
additional year of medical school. This helps offset the income
difference between a career in primary care and a career in a more
lucrative medical specialty.
The first students accepted into Mercer's program are Toccoa
native Mary Keith, who graduated from Georgia Tech, and Hartwell
native Daniel Gordon, who is a graduate of Valdosta State
University. They began the program this summer at MUMC in
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
defines medically underserved areas or populations as those having
too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, and high
poverty and/or high elderly population. According to the HRSA, some
of Georgia's highest concentrations of medically underserved areas
and/or populations are in Bibb, Chatham, Cobb, DeKalb, Dougherty,
Fulton, Muscogee, and Richmond counties.
Memorial University Medical Center is a two-state healthcare
organization serving a 35-county area in southeast Georgia and
southern South Carolina. The system includes its flagship hospital,
a 530-bed academic medical center; Memorial primary
and specialty care physician networks; a major medical
education program; business and
industry services; and NurseOne,
a 24-hour call center. You can follow us at facebook.com/memorialhealth, twitter.com/mymemorial, and youtube.com/memorialhealth.