SGMC Health becomes the clinical campus for Mercer University School of Medicine

SGMC Health is the newest clinical campus for Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). Beginning this summer, SGMC Health will welcome its first class of third- and fourth-year medical students.

According to Mercer, the goal of developing a clinical site in Valdosta is to allow medical students to experience the high-quality care provided by a tertiary medical center serving rural communities. MUSM accepts only Georgia residents and favors students from rural areas. The opening of a clinical site in Valdosta expands the School’s reach into a critical medically underserved region.

Clerkship directors are responsible for leading the clinical curriculum and rotations at SGMC Health include Meghan Gallagher, DO (Internal Medicine); Brian Griner, MD (Pediatrics); Anthony Johnson, MD (Family Medicine); Paresh Thanki, MD (Psychiatry); Anne Grace Morgan, MD (OBGYN); and James Davis, MD (Surgery).

SGMC Health – MUSM Valdosta Clerk Directors

“SGMC Health is very proud of our partnership with Mercer University School of Medicine, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on the development of the MUSM Valdosta clinical campus,” said SGMC Health President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald E. Dean.

SGMC Health and MUSM’s partnership began in 2020 with the creation of an ACGME-accredited internal medicine residency program. Since its first class, the program has been fully adapted and now hosts 24 trainees.

Ronald E. Dean, SGMC Health
The President and
Chief Executive Officer

“What began as a strategic relationship to develop residency training programs at SGMC Health has given way to an even greater opportunity to expand the pipeline of well-trained physicians for South Georgia. The dedication of our medical staff, employees and volunteers to support this effort is commendable and will shape the physician workforce for our health system for years to come.”

The MUSM Valdosta campus will be housed in a dedicated medical education unit within the main campus at 2501 N Patterson Street. Starting in July 2024, the site will offer all required clerkship assignments and Year 3 electives, as well as the sub-practice, elective and elective rotations required for Year 4 of the MD program. SGMC Health has a 15-county service area, most of which is rural, so this affiliation provides an opportunity to advance MUSM’s mission by adding more rural clinical experiences in the clerkship and post-clerkship phases.

“Mercer University School of Medicine is honored to partner with SGMC Health,” said Dr. Jean Sumner, dean of the School of Medicine.

Dr. Jean Sumner, Dean of MUSM

“The opportunity to partner with SGMC Health gives our students a chance to experience a comprehensive rural hospital environment with excellent physicians, other highly trained professionals, and the latest equipment and technology. Also, the spirit of commitment to the region and the patients who use SGMC Health’s services is impressive. Our students are all from Georgia and many are from South Georgia. Our expectation is that with this experience they will choose to stay in the region to practice.”

Joseph Hayes, MD, MUSM Valdosta Associate Dean

MUSM graduate Joseph Hayes, MD, and current institutional officer-designate at SGMC Health, will lead the Valdosta campus as associate dean.

Dr. Hayes said, “We are proud to take this next step in supporting and promoting medical education in South Georgia. SGMC Health has assembled an esteemed faculty team that truly considers it an honor to serve in this capacity, inspiring and guiding our next generation of physicians.”

Amari Evans is a rising third-year medical student from Valdosta and will be transferring from the MUSM Columbus campus to complete her medical education at the new clinical site within SGMC Health.

Amari Evans, MUSM student

“My first job in healthcare was at SGMC Health as a medical scribe in the emergency department, so this is quite a moment for me. I am very excited to finish my clinical years in Valdosta and serve the community that raised me,” said Evans. “Having a clinical campus in Valdosta contributes to Mercer students’ journey to becoming a successful Georgia physician by giving us an opportunity to serve a broad patient demographic. I believe the culture of Valdosta and the mission of MUSM will be a beautiful blend and attract students to practice in the area.”

SGMC Health is currently building a medical simulation center to allow medical practice activities, including standardized patient encounters, to be offered on-site in Valdosta. This simulation center will also offer interdisciplinary training sessions in partnership with health professions programs at nearby Valdosta State University. Clinical partners provide all facilities including clinical skills exam rooms and simulation lab space. SGMC Health has allocated $250,000 for virtual reality and high-fidelity models for ultrasound and procedural training, which are comparable to those available at other MUSM campuses.

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