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Summer Maternal Health Observership Program

This June, The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center began offering the Summer Experience in Maternal Health Observership to rising second-year students at Georgia’s publicly funded medical schools. The program’s duration is six weeks and is designed to expand the learning experience for rising second year medical students who are interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology and practicing in rural, medically underserved communities. Students shadow providers in rural Georgia and participate in a specialized curriculum to include participation in journal club and publication.

The idea for the Observership was developed by student Alicia Williams when she found that opportunities for students in their preclinical years to participate in specialized activities had been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

I was looking all over the Southeast for a summer experience and found that clinical programs were not accepting visiting students or were holding spots for students who were unable to participate last year because of the pandemic.  The time before we begin our clinical years is particularly important and I wanted to gain experience in my area of interest but there were no opportunities available. I knew that Mercer would be open to hearing ideas for a program that would allow both MUSM and visiting students to gain clinical and research experience while spreading the mission to prepare physicians to meet the healthcare needs of rural and underserved areas of Georgia.  I put together a presentation and spoke with Dr. Sumner and the Rural Health Innovation Center and it became the Summer Experience in Maternal Health Observership,” explained Alicia Williams. “I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with rural physicians while completing research and sharing my experience.  I believe it will make us all better doctors.”  

The inaugural cohort, pictured above, includes Alicia Williams (MUSM, Macon campus), Will Lundy (MUSM, Savannah campus), Ethan Harrison (MUSM, Macon campus) and Nick Maron (MUSM, Macon campus).