Mercer University, Memorial Launch 3-Year Family Medicine Program

(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 Savannah.

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.