Page 1

MED notes A Mercer University School of Medicine publication.

Columbus celebrates new clinical campus p.8 global outreach with MUSM p.6

faculty research p.10

student spotlight p.12

news& notes p.14

in this issue

3 4

6 8 10 11



Match Day Cultivating our Legacy Windshield Tours Accelerated Track Family Medicine Program Health Sciences Center Engaging our World Global Health Expanding our Reach Columbus as a MUSM Campus Milemarkers Savannah’s First Commencement Spotlights Research - Christy C. Bridges, PhD Student and Alumni Notables News and Notables Adopt-A-First Year Program Women in Medicine 2012 Enrollment Statistics Upcoming Events

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 2


Images from our 2012 Match Day Ceremonies from both Macon and Savannah. The celebration in Savannah corresponded with Saint Patrick’s Day, hence the festive attire! Our alumni again placed in prestigious programs across the country, from Emory to Harvard. In addition, we matched 10 Mercer School of Medicine graduates in residency programs at our teaching hospitals, in Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. p

MEDnotes | Summer 2012| 3

cultivating our legacy

Windshield Tours enter fifth year Orientation program seeks to provide medical students context and background to MUSM’s mission of serving the under-served.


mplemented in 2008, the Windshield Tours are one of the many ways our students connect with the rural and under-served communities throughout Georgia. On the second day of orientation to medical school, students are divided into small groups and sent to thirteen sites within a ninety-minute driving distance our two campuses. Chosen because of their rural/underserved status, unique partnerships that had been forged in the community, and a willingness to partner with the medical school, these communities help students better understand the School of Medicine’s calling to serve the underserved. Although the itinerary varies by community, a windshield tour generally features various housing circumstances, schools, recreational facilities, etc.; an opportunity to interact with health care providers, either in their offices or during a tour of the local hospital; a route that included the back roads; lunch at a local establishment; and opportunities to meet community leaders with the Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development Commission. During the drive, students and faculty review demographic information specific to the community and discussed trigger questions designed to encourage thinking about health disparities, rural communities and health care. We are always seeking more communities in which we can initiate our future doctors into the heart of rural medicine. If you would like to learn more about this program or would like host a group, please contact Dr. McKinley Thomas at

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 4

MUSM initiates Accelerated-Track Family Medicine Program A

fter years of planning and proposals, this spring, MUSM received accreditation for the ACT-FM program, which allows students interested in a career in Family Medicine the opportunity to complete their medical school coursework in an accelerated 3 year program of study. Currently only available on the Savannah campus, this accelerated curriculum builds upon the strengths of the MUSM problem-based curriculum with clinical experiences and community medicine activities as well as clerkships and other elective experiences. The educational objectives for this program are identical to the first three years of the four year MD program; essentially the same curriculum, the main difference lies in the fact that the ACT-FM program is compressed into 131 weeks of instructional time and offers more educational contact opportunities between students and the Family Medicine faculty.

Mercer University’s Board of Trustees approves Health Sciences Center

written by Mark Vanderhoek


his year, Mercer University’s Board of Trustees authorized establishment of the Mercer University Health Sciences Center, a multi-campus academic health center encompassing the School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. The Mercer University Health Sciences Center, which became operational on July 1, will enroll more than 1,700 students, employ more than 400 full-time faculty and staff, and graduate more than 500 physicians, nurses and nurse educators, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, family therapists, public health professionals, and biomedical scientists each year. In addition to the three current health sciences units – medicine, pharmacy and nursing – the new Center will open a fourth academic unit on July 1, 2013. The new College of Health Professions incorporates the master’s-level physician assistant

and the doctoral-level physical therapy programs, which were previously housed within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the master’s-level public health program, which was originally offered in the School of Medicine. The new college will also allow for the addition of future health sciences programs, such as occupational therapy, as well as expansion of existing programs on multiple Mercer campuses.

Mercer Health Sciences Center, the University will be better positioned to meet the rapidly growing demand for health care professionals in Georgia. Improving the accessibility, affordability and quality of health care depends on greater teamwork and collaboration among various health care professionals, and few institutions in the Southeast match the breadth of health care programs and professionals found at Mercer.”

“Mercer University has long been recognized as a leader in preparing health care professionals for our state,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood, on the new development. “Through the establishment of the

Dr. Hewitt W. (Ted) Matthews, longtime dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and vice president for health affairs at the University, has assumed the role of senior vice president for health sciences,

oversee the new Center. “Establishment of the Mercer Health Sciences Center will enable the University to expand and enhance clinical education opportunities with health systems across the state, align the academic units to increase collaboration on basic, clinical, and translational research, as well as educational programs, and attract additional external research funding,” Dr. Matthews said. “It will also allow the University to bring new health sciences programs to communities it serves across the state and provide benefits to undergraduate health sciences programs in Macon, such as biomedical engineering, global health and pre-professional programs.”

MEDnotes | Summer 2011 | 5

engaging our world

Mercer School of Medicine maintains focus on Global Outreach MUSM continues to encourage students in the practice of aiding marginalized communities, not just in our state, but across the world. In July 2012, 47 students, faculty, staff, family and friends of Mercer on Mission. As a result, our students have travelled all over the world, University School of Medicine traveled to Gauimaca, Honduras and from Latin and South America to Central and East Asia. In the past surrounding areas to provide healthcare to underserved residents. year, Mercer medical students have participated in trips to Honduras, In 8 days, the team provided care to nearly 1900 people, completing Cambodia, Haiti, and Peru. more than 30 procedures and distributing clean drinking water, clothes, shoes, and hygiene At MUSM, Global items to Hondurans in Outreach doesn’t seek to “Medical missions enable students in need. In addition to these solely focus on servicethe Doctor of Medicine program to learn, oriented trips, but aforementioned health provisions, our team also also to strengthen ties practice, and sharpen medical skills passed out bibles, offered and collaborate with prayer and constructed professionals while providing direct medical care in an medical concrete flooring for and facilities across the underserved area of the world.” several families. world. One such example is the 2-4 week elective Gayle Bina, MPH A phenomenal display at Kanazawa Medical Department of Community Medicine of teamwork and University in Kanazawa altruism, this action of Japan. 2-3 students per global service is not an isolated event at Mercer. While focused on year are accepted by KMU on recommendation of MUSM’s Dean. providing heathcare to the rural and underserved areas of Georgia, These students live in university dormitories and participate in the global outreach is one of the many ways Mercer School of Medicine university’s adjacent hospital and outpatient clinics. KMU and Mercer strongly encourages service and learning experience for all medical students interact in both professional and social contexts. Students also students. Serving the health care needs of refugees and others who have time to explore the city and other local and national attractions. seek care gives students a deep appreciation and understanding of Last year’s MSIVs selected to participate in this elective session were what a community physician is and does. Medical students who Christopher Gaunder, Brent Allen and Roy Takei. participate in this type of service will have life-changing experiences through immersion in another culture while providing meaningful We are excited to continue learning about the world as we are serving service to others. The School of Medicine hosts several trips each year, the underserved, both close to home and abroad. For more informasometimes in conjunction with the undergraduate program, Mercer tion, contact the Dean’s Office at (478) 301-2600.

A Student’s Perspective As one of this year’s team leaders of the 2012 Medical Mission Trip, I felt so excited to travel somewhere new to share love and hope with the people in Guaimaca, Honduras. We served over 1,800 Hondurans medically and we were able to help many others in the name of the Lord. I feel truly honored to have shared such an incredible journey with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Alyssa Thielemann, Class of 2015

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 6

About Mercer on Mission

A predominantly undergraduate-focused program, Mercer On Mission is a unique blend of study abroad and service-learning that provides life-changing experiences for students through academic instruction, cultural immersion, meaningful service, and spiritual reflection. Working alongside in-country partners, Mercer students and faculty are bringing water to villages in Africa, fitting amputees in Vietnam with low-cost prosthetic legs, teaching orphans in Guatemala, students in Liberia and the homeless in Brazil, and delivering much-needed medical care in Thailand. Mercer On Mission is the highest expression of what it means to be a faith-based university in the 21st Century. For more information about this program and what you can do to help it develop, contact Dr. Craig McMahan at (478) 301-2992 or via E-mail at MercerOnMission@




MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 7

expanding our reach


Columbus Officially a Site for MUSM Clinical Rotations


s Mercer University’s first medical students in Columbus prepared to begin their clinical rotations, Columbus Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson honored their efforts by proclaiming Monday, July 16, 2012 as Mercer University Medical School Day in the city. Mayor Tomlinson held a welcome event for the 14 first-ever students to begin third and fourth-year rotations in Columbus, where she made the proclamation honoring Mercer and their students. Following the mayor’s event, the Medical School held their first pinning ceremony for Columbus’ third year medical students.


In February, Mercer announced that it was partnering with The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital to establish a Columbus campus for its School of Medicine. Columbus joins Macon, where the school was established in 1982 to prepare physicians for rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia, and Savannah in hosting campuses for the Medical School, which currently enrolls 400 M.D. students. Under terms of the partnership, the Mercer School of Medicine will eventually place up to 80 third- and fourth-year medical students at the Columbus Campus.

Top: MUSM’s new Columbus teaching hospitals. (l: St. Francis - photographer: Chad White; r:Columbus Regional Medical Center) Bottom: Photographs from the welcome event and pinning ceremony. Photographer: John Knight

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 9


MUSM Savannah Celebrates Inaugural Commencement T

his May, our Savannah campus celebrated the graduation of its first class of 38 students. Commencement was marked by the presence of our distinguished speaker, Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, who serves as president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents the nation’s medical schools, teaching hospitals and academic societies. Savannah was established as a clinical campus in 1996 when MUSM and Memorial University Medical Center partnered to provide instruction for third and fourth-year medical students in that area. Mercer expanded its existing two-year clinical program at Memorial into a full four-year campus in the fall of 2008.


Images from our Savannah campus’s first commencement. Photographers: John Carrington, John Knight

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 10

faculty research

Kidney Disease and Renal Transport of Mercury Mercer’s research seeks to develop a better understanding of the toxicants latent in our environment and their impact on renal systems


hronic kidney disease (CKD) affects approximately 17% of the United States’ adult population. This disease, most often caused by diabetes and hypertension, is characterized by a progressive and permanent loss of functioning renal mass. Early signs of CKD often go undetected and many patients are not diagnosed until renal function has been compromised. During the early stages of this disease, patients may continue to be exposed to nephrotoxicants such as mercury, which may enhance the disease process. Given the incidence of CKD and the prevalence of mercury and other toxicants in our environment, it is important to human health that we have a thorough understanding of the way in which nephrotoxicants are handled by the kidney. Dr. Christy Bridges’ laboratory studies the ways in which mercury is taken up and eliminated by cells within normal and diseased kidneys.

Dr. Christy C. Bridges received a Bachelor’s of

Science from Berry College in 1997 and her Ph.D. from the Georgia Health Sciences University’s Department of Cellular Biology in 2001. Before coming to MUSM, Bridges worked with Georgia Health Sciences University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Bridges currently serves as the School of Medicine’s Associate Professor of Histology. An Ad hoc reviewer for NIH Study Section (XNDA) as well as multiple toxicology journals, she is also a member of the Society of Toxicology and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 9

student spotlights

Jonathan Smith Class of 2013, Macon Jonathan attended Georgia Southwestern State University where he attained a bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has lived in Georgia for the last 21 years and loves everything about the South from the fried chicken and sweet tea to the blazing hot summers.

Why I Chose MUSM

Why I’m Interested in Medicine

I enjoy playing and refereeing soccer. It’s a great way to get some exercise and fresh air as well as meet new people.

When I went into college, I knew I wanted to do something with the sciences. I declared Biology as my major, but really didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Growing up in a home where my dad was a physician, I saw his lifestyle and wasn’t sure it was for me. No matter how much I tried to go another direction, medicine was like a magnet that drew me towards it. I like to volunteer my time helping others at various events. I soon realized that medicine was a perfect meeting of science and humanitarianism. I am glad I chose to go this route. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to use science to heal others.

I chose Mercer because I really felt at home. I thought that the faculty and students were truly happy going to work and school everyday. The hospitality and warmth that I felt was unlike anything I experienced elsewhere. I have loved every minute at Mercer and am glad I chose to attend medical school here.


Professional Goals

I am going to apply to residency in the field of Pediatrics with plans on working in a teaching hospital someday.

Mary Kate Claiborne Class of 2013, Savannah Mary Kate Claiborne is from Augusta, Georgia. She attended the University of Notre Dame where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Professional studies and Theology.

Why I’m Interested in Medicine

To me the most attractive aspect of medicine is the ability to enter into people’s lives in a meaningful way everyday. It is amazing to be able to enhance someone’s life and to help improve the quality, or longevity, of their life. I have grown up admiring my pediatrician mother who has affected the lives of many patients through her dedication to her work in child abuse. Pediatrics further appeals to me because it offers the ability to make decisions to positively affect a child’s life that will have consequences for them over the next eighty years.

Why I Chose MUSM

I was very attracted to the Problem-Based Learning curriculum at Mercer. It fosters cooperative learning amongst the students and encourages independent

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 12

learning that will serve us throughout our careers in medicine. Furthermore, Mercer offered the opportunity to live in Savannah, Georgia and to be able to help shape a new medical school campus, which has been a great experience.


I love to play in tennis leagues and run. I completed my second marathon during the Cardiology phase of second year, which was in San Francisco, California. I also enjoy trying new healthy recipes and working out, especially spin class. Additionally, I like to spend time at the beach, which is another aspect that makes the Savannah campus so wonderful!

Professional Goals

I plan to pursue a career in interventional pediatric cardiology. I want to spend my life working with these young pediatric cardiology patients, and their families.

alumni spotlight

Steve Durkee, MD Class of 1998

Steve Durkee is a Macon native; he graduated from Stratford Academy then went onto The University of Georgia to complete his degree in Microbiology. Durkee graduated from Mercer School of Medicine’s MD program in 1998 and attended an OB/GYN Residency Program at the University of Tennessee. After residency Durkee returned home to practice and has been in Macon for the last nine years.

Why I Choose Medicine as a Profession

There’s no defining moment. I wanted to be a doctor since childhood and I have always found medicine fascinating. I knew that I wanted to help people and saw medicine as a selfless and well respected profession. It was an opportunity to have an influence on other peoples’ well-being.

Why I Chose Obstetrics and Gynecology

There are many reasons why I chose OB/GYN, but there are two primary reasons: First, there’s always a lot going on in this field, so I can see and do many different things, daily. Secondly, I enjoy the continuity of care, as I begin seeing patients in their reproductive years and eventually deliver their children.

My Interests Outside of My Profession

I enjoy being outdoors! I participate in Triathlons and frequently take my kids biking, camping, hunting and fishing. We spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors in North Carolina where my in-laws are located.

What’s your current role with the school?

I serve as Volunteer faculty for the residency program and I’m currently the Medical School Alumni Board Secretary. The Board is working on getting alumni more involved with the students. Board members are also looking for class agents to identify where their classmates are practicing and the interests of MUSM alum. We want MUSM’s alumni to be connected by renewing old contacts and meeting new people who will benefit the school, community and alumni as a whole.

How did your experience at MUSM influence your approach to patient care?

I had a great experience at MUSM! I spent my clinical years in Savannah at Memorial University Medical Center, and the experience was excellent. I’m proud to be a member of a school that is growing and is well respected. Being a Mercer Alumnus truly reflects positively on your practice.

Advice To Current Medical School Students

While Medicine has changed significantly and will continue to change over time, the core values of why you became a doctor will remain constant. Sometimes you may ask yourself “what was I thinking?” Remember, this profession is very rewarding. If this is what you want to do, all of the hard stuff works itself out. Make sure you’re happy to go to work every day!

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 13


Adopt-A-First Year Mentoring Program Enters its 3rd Year


ecoming a first year medical student can be extremely overwhelming, and sometimes there is nothing more valuable than seeking advice and guidance from someone who has been through the same experience. The Adopt-A-First Year program pairs physicians who are members of the Bibb County Medical Society with one medical student to mentor during the first (and arguably the toughest) year of medical school. Whether it’s meeting for lunch once a month, or allowing the student to come shadow for a day, the Adopt-A-First Year program aims are to make the transition into medical school easier. Over 20 first year students were matched with physicians last year, and the program hopes to continue to grow. If you think you might be interested in participating, please contact Alyssa Thielemann at

MUSM Holds 3rd Annual Women in Medicine Celebration M

ercer University School of Medicine enjoyed a taste of Mardi Gras on February 21, 2012 at the Third Annual Women in Medicine Celebration. The annual Women in Medicine event began in 2010 to commemorate MUSM women who had passed away in previous years and is held on Fat Tuesday each year in honor of the annual Mardi Gras gathering hosted for MUSM women by the late Dona Harris, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Development. According to Jan LaBeause, “Departments across the School came together to plan the festivities, and the MUSM student chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association played a key role in organizing and promoting the celebration.” Part of the celebration included a talk by Dr. Jean Sumner (MUSM Class of ’86) on “Regulation & Responsibility: The Changing Challenges of Medicine.” A social hour with Mardi Gras “king cake” and refreshments followed the presentation. A silent auction and a “cajun-cookoff ” were held to benefit the Detmer-Harris Women in Medicine Endowed Lectureship Series, raising over $1,200 for the fund. The endowment was created in memory of faculty members Drs. Kris Demter and Dona Harris by the MUSM Class of 2009. Plans are already underway for next year’s celebration which will be held on Fat Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

Jan LaBeause has spent countless hours organizing and supporting Women in Medicine. She retired in June of this year. u

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 14

David Greenbaum, Kim Meeks, Jan LaBeause and Debbie Moten enjoying the cajuncookoff during the Celebration t

Mercer Alumna Jean Sumner, M.D. speaks at the 2012 Women in Medicine Celebration t

Notables Dr. Melton Strozier, CLA ‘74 Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Dr. Strozier was appointed by Georgia governor Nathan Deal as a member in the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). ASPPB facilitates the standardization of licensure standards among the regional licensure boards. Dr. Catherine Preissig (Mobley), MD ‘02 Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics This year, Dr. Preissig was appointed by the Society of Critical Care Medicine as co-editor of the Pediatric Comprehensive Critical Care Review Book Task Force Dr. Harold Katner Professor & Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Katner wdentified by Castle Connolly as among the top 1% of the nation’s Infectious Disease Specialists Tim Fuller, MSIV (Savannah) Mr. Fuller received a 2012 American Association for the Surgery of Trauma medical student/resident scholarship to attend the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and Clinical Congress of Acute Care Surgery. Godfrey Ilonzo, MSI (Savannah) Mr. Ilonzo co-authored a manuscript that has been accepted for publication by the American Journal of Surgery. He is from Milton, GA and has an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from Harvard University.

Admission Stats 2012 Doctor of Medicine Class of 2016 Average age: 23 Average MCAT: 28 (9 VR, 9 PS, 10 BS) GPA: 3.5 (BCPM), 3.7 (AO), 3.6 (Total) Total EDP Applicants: 115 Total EDP Interviewed: 86 Total EDP Accepted: 46 Total RP Applicants: 747 Total RP Interviewed: 300 Total RP Accepted: 54 Master of Public Health Total # of applicants: 64 Total # accepted: 35

Master of Family Therapy Total applicants: 62 Total accepted: 38 (11-Macon, 27-Atlanta) Master of Science in Preclinical Sciences Total applicants: 61 Total accepted: 34 Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences Total applicants: 10 Total accepted: 7 PhD in Clinical Medical Psychology Total applicants: 44 Total accepted: 14

When superimposed, the maps of underserved communities in Georgia (red) and counties where MUSM alumni are serving (yellow) provides an impressive visual display of MUSM’s impact on rural and underserved areas across our state. p

MEDnotes | Summer 2012 | 15


e b ook

ut ub

upcoming events Friday, October 26, 2012 Dr. Jocelyn A. Rankin Library Dedication 1 p.m. - Macon Campus For more information, contact

November 9-11, 2012 Mercer University Homecoming For more information, visit

Thursday, April 25, 2013 Alumni Social - Woodruff House (Macon Campus)

Friday, May 3, 2013 Commencement - Macon Campus

Saturday, May 4, 2013 Commencement - Savannah Campus

Got News?

Let us and your fellow classmates know what’s new in your life. Email your class notes to Trey Seagraves at


ug mu





wi tt e

A Mercer University School of Medicine publication.


MED notes


Mercer MedNotes 2012  

Mercer University School of Medicine's annual alumni newsletter.

Mercer MedNotes 2012  

Mercer University School of Medicine's annual alumni newsletter.