Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Agnes Scott, Mercer Partner to Produce More Doctors for Rural Georgia

While the health care industry as a whole is suffering from a shortage of family practice and primary care doctors, rural communities face an even greater challenge in attracting qualified doctors. Only about 10 percent of doctors practice in rural America although around 25 percent of the nation’s population lives in a rural area, according to the federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Now, Agnes Scott College and Mercer University are partnering to combat this trend.

In an effort to increase the number of prospective medical students pursuing careers in rural medicine, Agnes Scott and Mercer University School of Medicine have agreed to link Agnes Scott’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program with the medical school program. Students admitted to the Post-Bac Pre-Med Program who meet the requirements of the linkage agreement will be assured early acceptance into Mercer University School of Medicine.

To qualify for the Mercer linkage program, students must enter Agnes Scott’s Post-Bac Pre-Med program in June, be residents of the State of Georgia and be willing to practice primary care in rural or underserved Georgia.

“There’s a clear need for qualified physicians in rural communities,” said Dr. Maurice Clifton, associate dean of admissions and student affairs at the Mercer University School of Medicine. “Our partnership with Agnes Scott helps identify outstanding students with a non-traditional background who, after rigorous science preparation, will be ready for the medical school curriculum and who will go on to practice in rural and underserved communities of Georgia.”

The program’s main advantage for Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med students is that it allows them to enroll in medical school immediately after successfully completing the program, said Nancy Devino, director of Agnes Scott’s Science Center for Women and director of the Post-Bac Pre-Med Program. The traditional medical school application process can take up to a year, she added.

Agnes Scott’s Post-Bac Pre-Med Program is designed to help students with non-science backgrounds prepare for medical school by providing them with the prerequisite laboratory science courses. The one-year certificate program is the only one offered by a liberal arts college in Georgia.

“This partnership enhances the credibility of our program and provides outside validation of the quality of students who complete the program,” Devino said.

Once Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med students have been selected to join the linkage program, they must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.5 or greater in the program, complete all prerequisite science courses required by Mercer, complete all Agnes Scott Post-Bac Pre-Med Program requirements and earn an acceptable score on the MCAT. Students must also continue to demonstrate the personal, ethical and professional qualities necessary to become members of the student body of Mercer’s School of Medicine and fulfill their roles as future physicians.

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