JACKSON, Miss. – Two faculty members and three medical students of the University of Mississippi Medical Center have been selected to participate in the first year of the GE-National Medical Fellowships’ Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP). The program’s goal is to provide future health-care professionals the opportunity to experience primary care practice in community health centers across the country with the hope of drawing them into primary care.
The four pilot sites for the program are Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville and Jackson, and 38 fellows from medical, nursing and physician assistant programs from across the country have been assigned to community health centers in these cities because of the shortage of primary care in these areas. The program is funded through a $2.3 million grant from the GE Foundation.
Dr. Thais Tonore, associate professor of family medicine, said programs like this help to encourage medical students who want to return to their communities as family doctors. Often by the time students reach their third-year of medical school, they are swayed by mounting student debt and advice to specialize in a particular field of medicine.
“The people who work in these clinics have an interest in primary care. They will get to experience it early, which will help to maintain their interests,” she said.
Tonore and Dr. David Norris, assistant professor of family medicine, will mentor six medical students as they complete 200 service learning hours combined with leadership development. The six students are Kristie Alvarez, Hal Flowers, and Carolita Heritage from UMMC, Tiffany Jackson from Mercer University School of Medicine-Macon, Ga., Caroline Price of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Jaleen Sims of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine-Carbondale. They will gain hands-on experience at the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and the Robert Smith Community Health Center.
“With an alarming shortage of primary care professionals anticipated in the years to come, PCLP enlists talented and motivated students to be part of the solution. We hope to ignite these students’ passion for a future career in medically underserved communities,” said Bob Corcoran, vice president, GE Corporate Citizenship and president and chair, GE Foundation.