Mercer Doctors Featured in New Health Care Documentary on GPB


Two Mercer University School of Medicine alumni – one from the first class to graduate in 1986 and one from the Class of 2011 – feature prominently in a new documentary airing on Georgia Public Broadcasting in April that looks at the challenges impacting health care in our state and nation.

Primary Concern, produced by EMMY-award-winning Livingston+McKay, examines the growing shortage of primary care physicians and the implications of that shortage through the compelling stories of physicians and the communities they serve. Dr. Jean Sumner, among the first medical doctors to graduate from Mercer and a physician practicing in Sandersville and Wrightsville, and recent graduate Dr. Ashley Mooney, a native of Fitzgerald, are two of the doctors featured in the program.

The film details the looming crisis in health care in all its complexities. A microcosm of what is happening across America, Georgia has a critical physician shortage, and the need for medical schools like Mercer's that focus on preparing primary care doctors has never been greater.

The ninth most populous state and the fifth-fastest growing, Georgia will rank last in the United States in physicians per capita by 2020 without changes to the state's medical education system. Mercer School of Medicine's addition of campuses in Savannah and Columbus in recent years is part of the solution, but further expansion of medical residencies is also needed.

Mercer School of Medicine preceptors who also appear in the documentary include Dr. Fred Gaton, a physician who practices in Roberta; Dr. James Hotz, an Albany physician; Dr. Edd Jones III, a 1987 graduate of the School of Medicine; and Dr. William Rawlings Jr., a retired physician from Sandersville and former chair of the Mercer School of Medicine Board of Governors.

GPB broadcast dates and times for Primary Concern include:

Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 4, Midnight

Saturday, April 6, 3 a.m.

Sunday, April 21, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24, 10 p.m.

More information about the film, including a brief preview, is available online at

About the 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's Savannah campus opened as a full four-year campus in 2008 on the campus of Memorial University Medical Center. The Columbus campus opened in 2012 for third- and fourth-year medical students. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School's primary teaching hospitals: The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and The Medical Center 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 Clinical Medical Psychology.

About Mercer University

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University's medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.