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Dr. Barkin to Direct Maternal Health Observership Program

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) is proud to announce Jennifer Barkin, Ph.D., M.S., professor and vice chair of Community Medicine, as the director of the Maternal Health Observership Program. Dr. Barkin earned her B.S. in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University and her master’s in biosatistics and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health.

In June of 2021, GRHIC began offering a summer experience in maternal health open to rising second-year M.D. students at all of Georgia’s publicly-funded medical schools, including the Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). This year, the Center is excited to have guidance from Dr. Barkin, who is a pioneer in the field of maternal mental health and the developer of the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF). The BIMF assesses how new mothers are adjusting to their new roles, placing the focus on the mother, her well-being, and optimal adjustment.

Barkin said, “The observership allows us to do a deep dive on subjects that aren’t typically covered extensively in most medical schools’ curricula. The students will have hands-on experiences with providers in rural Georgia along with learning about the use of antidepressants during pregnancy and postpartum, and how climate change is impacting health and health care. We can’t wait to further develop this program, as it enhances the learning experience for those interested in women’s health in meaningful ways.”

The observership program offers medical students an opportunity to observe the delivery of care firsthand, research relevant maternal health topics, and develop a poster presentation focused on their maternal health interests. This summer program offers an expanded learning experience for students interested in practicing obstetrics and gynecology in rural, medically underserved communities.