School of Medicine Announces Seven New Nathan Deal Scholars

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Nathan Deal Scholars 2020

Nathan Deal SealMACON/SAVANNAH – Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently announced seven new Nathan Deal Scholars.

Scholars are selected based on their strong ties to rural Georgia, character, leadership qualities, community involvement and their likelihood of serving in rural Georgia after their scholarship obligations are met. They will receive 85-100% of tuition for up to four academic years.

The scholarship is funded by the interest on a $35 million grant to MUSM from the state of Georgia. These funds were proceeds of a settlement the state received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in February 2016.

Deal, who was Georgia’s governor at the time of the settlement, and state legislative leadership immediately committed half the $70 million settlement to Mercer’s School of Medicine honoring the dedication exhibited in furthering the School’s mission to educate physicians who practice in the state’s rural counties.

“The Nathan Deal Scholarship enables and supports students who want to return to rural communities to become outstanding physicians. These scholars represent the highest commitment to providing excellent healthcare to rural Georgians,” said Jean R. Sumner, M.D., dean of MUSM. “These scholarships remove a huge financial burden of medical school debt, which has been a perceived hurdle for doctors going into less populated areas. With this financial aid, students plan on practicing quality medicine in the small towns they know and love.”

This year’s class of Nathan Deal Scholars includes: Charity Ruth Bray of Bulloch County (Class of 2022), Maggie Kearney of Decatur County (Class of 2023), Russell King of Seminole County (Class of 2023), Benjamin Bridges of Decatur County (Class of 2024), Seth Clary of Wayne County (Class of 2024), Susanna Hall of Jefferson County (Class of 2024) and Latisha Pryor of Macon County (Class of 2024).

These seven M.D. students join 48 other Nathan Deal Scholars in supporting MUSM’s mission. The program’s first three Scholars have completed residency requirements and are taking their places in rural, underserved areas of Georgia.

Mercer’s chosen use of the $35 million dollar grant to perpetually provide these scholarships will in 10 years prepare approximately 100 doctors who will serve the 112 rural designated counties of Georgia.

“The Nathan Deal Scholars will make a difference in the health status of Georgians,” added Dr. Sumner.  “This scholarship is one more way Mercer is reinforcing its commitment to rural Georgia.”

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, a majority of graduates practice in the state of Georgia, and Mercer leads the nation in those who are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences.

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Kyle Sears