Mercer School of Medicine Student Group Earns Grant for Service Leadership


Mercer University School of Medicine is one of three medical schools awarded a grant by Alpha Omega Alpha to support leadership development for medical students through mentoring, observation and service learning.Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical and health care leadership organization, awarded the $9,000 grant to be dispersed over three years. The other two award winners for this year were Duke University School of Medicine and State University of New York Upstate Medical University.

The grant is awarded to Mercer's student chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha to create an experiential leadership training program focused on the development of community-responsive physician leaders. The project includes three key components: developing a service-leadership curriculum, developing a community mentoring program and developing a student-driven free health care clinic.

Students will work to develop a leadership curriculum for the School, exploring leadership curricula implemented at other medical schools and bringing in experts to the Savannah Campus to share their insights on the content and structure of leadership programs. Sessions will be videoconferenced to the Macon and Columbus campuses. Using that information, it will develop a curriculum for the School.

In parallel with the leadership curriculum development, interested students will have the benefit of building mentoring relationships with community leaders. Through four to six one-on-one sessions during the year, the community mentor will help students to understand the plight of the underserved, the role of service organizations in promoting community health and the employment of core leadership skills in practice.

As part of the grant, students will partner with two volunteer and nonprofit organizations that provide free and low-cost health care for medically underserved individuals: Community Health Mission in Savannah and The Hearts and Hands Clinic in Statesboro. Students will have the opportunity to directly reach Savannah's underserved urban patients through Community Health Mission and, through Hearts and Hands, treat underserved individuals from rural and migrant populations. The Saturday sessions will benefit the clinics and the patients by reducing patient waiting lists. As the students develop and implement the Saturday clinics, the “hands on” leadership experience will reinforce the core competencies developed through the leadership curriculum.

The project team includes medical students Mary Kate Claiborne, Andres Montes and Godfrey Ilonzo with team members Alison Smith, Tia Bingham, Keith Reeves, Bryan Renken, Kristin Walker and Haresh Soorma. The mentor leader will be Dr. Martin Greenberg, with mentor team members Dr. T. Philip Malan Jr., Dr. Marie Dent, Dr. Robert Shelley, Dr. Sarfaraz Dhanji and Dr. Miriam Rittmeyer.