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GRHIC Hosts Maternal Health Observership Program

June 22, 2022, the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) began the second annual Maternal Health Observership Program for medical students from Georgia’s publicly-funded medical schools, including Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM).

The Observership Program offers medical students an opportunity to observe the delivery of obstetrics and gynecology care firsthand. This summer, the Observership Program has been expanded to offer a robust didactic and hands-on curriculum to four rising second-year medical students interested in practicing obstetrics and gynecology in rural, medically underserved communities of Georgia.

For six weeks (June 21-July 29), students shadow providers in rural Georgia and participate in a specialized didactic curriculum, which includes 1) participation in a spectacular Speaker Series featuring subject matter experts and clinicians working in obstetrics and gynecology and/or public health; 2) engagement in journal club discussions covering current women’s health literature; and 3) a problem analysis poster project to present a recommended solution to a specific barrier to maternal health care in rural Georgia.

The Maternal Health Observership Speaker Series welcomes students to attend interactive presentations highlighting state-of-the-art developments in Maternal Health research and interventions. Specifically, this year’s series features Erin Gill, a mother with lived maternal health disparity and her experience; Dr. Eva Martin, Medical Director, Women’s Program and Staff Gynecologist—North & South Central District Health Departments of Dublin and Macon/Warner Robins; Dr. Misti Patel, Director, Macon Regional Perinatal Center for the Georgia Department of Public Health; Dr. Lindsay Standeven, Assistant Professor of Reproductive Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University & Assistant Director, Center for Women’s Reproductive Mental Health; Dr. Jimmie Smith, Jr., Administrator, Macon-Bibb County Health Department; Kim Harris, Postpartum Support International, Georgia Chapter (PSI-GA); Dr. Cheryl Gaddis, Associate Professor of Practice and Chair, Department of Public Health & Director, Mercer University Master of Public Health Program; and Dr. Dara Mendez, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, and Founder & Director, Maternal and Child Health Equity Scholars Program.

The Journal Club discussions will feature conversations reviewing the medical, scientific, and community health components of eight articles spanning the length of the program. Each student will prepare a brief, informal presentation to highlight these areas from their two articles and raise pressing questions to promote interactive dialogue among their peers. The Journal Club sessions will be hosted and facilitated by Dr. Jennifer Barkin, director of the Maternal Health Observership, and Chris Scoggins, MPH.

The Problem Analysis Poster Project offers students the opportunity to reflect on the Grand Challenges that the Maternal Health Observership Program supports including but not limited to Maternal and Child Health; Physician & Health Workforce Shortage; Social Determinants of Health; Mental Health; and Healthcare Infrastructure. Following this reflection and review of literature, it is expected for students to identify a specific barrier to care experienced by rural patients and pregnant mothers in Georgia. Throughout the course of the Observership, students will systematically explore that problem, identify interventions and solutions, and present a summary of findings in the form of an academic poster.

The Observership Program is open to students from all of Georgia’s publicly-funded medical schools. The 2022 cohort includes Mercer University School of Medicine students Fatima Humayun, Sarah Neaves, Ashlee Dixon, and Lauren Brooker, as pictured above.