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School of Medicine Inaugural Class Members Receive White Coats in Savannah
August 18, 2008

Richard L. Cameron
(478) 301-5500



SAVANNAH, Ga.  – Sunday, Aug. 17, was a historic day for Mercer University, Memorial University Medical Center, the city of Savannah and the state of Georgia. Thirty first-year medical students received their white coats and began their education as members of the inaugural class in Mercer’s new four-year medical program in Savannah. The White Coat Ceremony, which symbolizes that a doctor should “care” as well as “cure,” was held in the Mercer Auditorium of the Hoskins Center for Biomedical Research on the Memorial campus.

The Mercer School of Medicine’s presence in Savannah dates back to 1996 when the University joined in a clinical relationship with Memorial Health. Over the ensuing 12 years, instruction for third- and fourth-year medical students has been provided at Memorial. The Georgia General Assembly, recognizing the need for additional physicians in the state, allocated funds in the 2007-2008 fiscal year for Mercer to expand to a four-year program in Savannah that will confer the M.D. degree and employ the same curriculum and teaching methods as the Macon campus.

Federal and state studies indicate that the state is facing a serious physician shortage. Georgia ranked 37th in the number of physicians per capita, 41st in total mortality and 43rd in overall health status in a 2005 report by the United Health Foundation. In addition, more than 25 percent of the current Georgia physician workforce is age 55 or older. Most of these physicians will retire from practice or significantly curtail their patient care activities in the next 15 years.

“This entering class of 30 first-year medical students represents a commitment that Mercer University, in partnership with the State of Georgia and Memorial Health University Medical Center, has made to provide more physicians for our cities and communities,” said Mercer University President William D. Underwood. “The women and men who make up this first class in Savannah will in a few years join a cadre of Mercer doctors who are making a profound difference in the lives of countless Georgia citizens.”

The Mercer Medical School in Savannah admitted 30 students this year, but that number will grow to 60 students as facilities become available. A new academic building for the Medical School will be constructed on the Memorial Medical Center campus in Savannah in the next several years through major fund-raising initiatives.

Mercer, which is the only medical program in the state that accepts only Georgia residents, opened its Medical School in Macon in August 1982. Since that time, nearly two-thirds of Mercer graduates have remained in Georgia to establish their medical practices. More than 83 percent of these graduates practice medicine in federally-designated, medically-underserved areas.More than 110 Georgia communities and 87 counties have a Mercer-educated physician.

Memorial Health has increased the number of clinical rotations available to accommodate a significant increase in enrollment with Mercer supplementing the existing program in Savannah with a two-year basic science program that will support students in the expanded clinical program.

Dr. Wayne Glasgow is serving as interim senior associate dean – Savannah Campus. Dr. Glasgow will continue with his current duties, leading the basic science faculty in Macon and Savannah, while the School searches for a permanent senior associate dean, according to School of Medicine Interim Dean Dr. William Bina. 

About Mercer University School of Medicine:
Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. The School only accepts Georgia residents into its medical degree program. Students entering Mercer University School of Medicine will be graduated from a school that utilizes a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. In June 2007, the University announced it would expand its two-year clinical program at Memorial University Medical Center into a second full, four-year doctor of medicine program by fall 2008. The School also offers master’s degrees in public health, family therapy, family services and nurse anesthesia.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit