SAVANNAH – Dr. Jean R. Sumner, dean of Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM), recently named Dr. J. David Baxter, associate professor of internal medicine, as senior associate dean for the Savannah campus, effective March 1, 2021.
Raised in Georgia, Dr. Baxter graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University, where he majored in biology. He received his medical degree from Medical College of Georgia and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. He went on to complete his residency in internal medicine at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta, where he also completed a fourth-year chief residency.
Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Baxter joined the teaching faculty of Georgia Baptist, and was soon named associate program director of the internal medicine residency program. After several years of teaching and practicing at Georgia Baptist, he spent a number of years in private practice in Mableton and Austell. Dr. Baxter is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Mercer has always been a special place for Dr. Baxter, whose parents met each other on campus in the 1950s. This connection is part of what inspired him to join the University, where he has quickly become an integral member of the leadership team not only in Savannah but across all three medical school campuses.
Most recently, Dr. Baxter served as interim senior associate dean for the Savannah campus. Prior to that, he was the associate program director of the internal medicine residency before transitioning to medical student clerkship director for the School of Medicine’s Savannah campus. In 2012, Dr. Baxter became MUSM’s school-wide Year-3 program director and continues in that role today.
“Dr. Baxter has done a superb job as the interim senior associate dean of the Savannah campus,” said Dr. Sumner. “A comprehensive national search was conducted, and Dr. Baxter was chosen based on his immense skill, outstanding leadership and commitment to our students, faculty and the mission of service to rural and underserved populations that is so important to our state. We are honored he accepted this important role.”
Dr. Baxter, whose teaching and publication interests are primarily in ethics and professionalism, has received numerous teaching awards, including the Gold Humanism Society Award and Attending of the Year, both at Georgia Baptist and Memorial.
“Dr. Baxter is a talented physician and experienced educational leader who is a model of professionalism,” said Dr. William Hannah Jr., executive director of medical education and Designated Institutional Officer (DIO) at Memorial Health in Savannah. “His dedication to compassionate patient care, humble attitude and collegiality make him the ideal person to fill the role of senior associate dean for the Savannah campus.”
Dr. Baxter and his wife, Ann Baxter, a Georgia native, have been married for 40 years and are the proud parents of three adult children. Dr. Baxter is active in his church where he serves as an elder.
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, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. 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.