Mississippi was facing a shortage of doctors even before the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Now, one public university is offering a program to try to put more physicians to work here in the Magnolia State.
Mississippi high school juniors considering medical careers in their home state have the opportunity to take part in a summer program at Mississippi State University.
The five-week Rural Medical Scholars summer program at MSU aims at identifying the state’s future primary care doctors and help them become members of the medical school class of 2023. Applications for the June 1-July 7 program must be submitted by March 24.
“Mississippi still has the lowest number of physicians per capita in the nation, which limits access to care and contributes to many of the negative health issues plaguing our state,” said Bonnie Carew, rural health program leader for MSU’s Extension Service. “The one constant in health care reform discussions is the need for more primary care physicians. The scholars program is helping to address that need in Mississippi.”
Carew said with a declining number of rural physicians, the concern for adequate health care increases as well. A goal of the program is to develop a pipeline of future medical providers.
“The program is clearly meeting the need it was designed to accomplish — increasing the availability of primary care physicians and health care services throughout rural Mississippi,” she said. “To date, 294 students have participated in the Rural Medical Scholars program, with most planning health-related careers. Thirty-four of our graduates went on to medical school, and 20 of those are practicing physicians today.”
The program is primarily funded by the MSU Extension Service with additional assistance from the Mississippi Office of Rural Health. Students between their junior and senior years with ACT composite scores of at least 25 will take two pre-med courses on the Starkville campus — biology and sociology. They also will observe doctors at practice.
The selected scholars will receive tuition and housing during the program. A $60 registration fee is required after acceptance, and the scholars will be responsible for their food and textbook expenses. Applications and program details are available online at www.RMS.msucares.com.