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GRHIC, Mercer School of Medicine, and Georgia 4-H Partner to Provide Pathways to Higher Education for High School Youth

High school students from thirteen counties explored pathways to higher education at the Weekend in the Classic City (WICC) event, coordinated by Georgia 4-H and held October 21-22. Specifically designed for ninth through twelfth grade 4-H members, this annual event provides broad and diverse seminars and shows youth a comprehensive picture of the career options available in the state of Georgia.

About 30 students gathered at UGA for the weekend to get a taste of college life. Mercer Day at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, held on Sunday, was sponsored by the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). GRHIC and the School of Medicine joined forces with Mercer University Undergraduate Admissions and Georgia 4-H for this day of interactive learning focused on health care.

The morning began with Jean Sumner, MD, FACP, dean of MUSM, speaking about the state of rural health and the dire need for more healthcare professionals in rural, underserved areas of Georgia. Dr. Sumner also shared how the School of Medicine and GRHIC are tackling the challenges facing rural Georgia by preparing the next generation of physicians and health care professionals.

Participants were introduced to Mercer medical student volunteers, who shared about their Georgia roots and why they chose Mercer.

The 4-H’ers participated in the MUSM Experience with hands-on activities at three rotating stations, where medical student volunteers led engaging activities. Medical students Bailey Boyd, Jonathan “Bailey” Vickers, and Alyssa Lorenzen demonstrated the aspects of a physical exam. They taught how to take basic vital signs like blood pressure and pulse, how to use an oximeter to test oxygen levels, and how to use a reflex hammer and stethoscope.

Participants learned about the transmission of germs and infection control from MUSM students Nicole Bella and Meha Patel. The youth participated in a Glo-Germ Handwashing Activity which showed the ease and prevalence of germ spread. They also learned the importance of proper hygiene and ways to lower the risk of transmission.

A simulation demonstration was led by Robert Sarlay, MD, MPH, senior director of Medical Practice, along with MUSM students Lauren Brooker and Pierre Nguyen. The 4-H’ers received a crash course in human anatomy and physiology. They performed simulations by exploring and identifying various organs using an ultrasound mannequin.

Kelly Holloway, PhD, Mercer University assistant vice president for enrollment management, led an engaging case study to walk students through the undergraduate application process.

“The Sunday morning session was extremely engaging. We were able to have a great connection with so many people in different roles from Mercer University,” said one 4-H’er.

“It is well documented that professional early engagement of students influences their college education and career choices. Mercer Day at WICC was an ideal opportunity to expose pre-collegiate 4-H’ers to health care related fields and professions, as well as showcase what Mercer has to offer,” said Be-Atrice Cunningham, director of Pathways, Programs, and Events for the School of Medicine.

MUSM is committed to nurturing tomorrow’s leaders in health care. Georgia 4-H prepares the youth of today with the necessary skills to become the leaders of tomorrow. Mercer Day was a great opportunity to connect with youth across the state and provide them with a taste of college life and beyond.


Pictured: Bailey Boyd, a second-year student at Mercer University School of Medicine, demonstrates the proper way to take a patient’s blood pressure.