School of Medicine Names Distinguished Preceptors for Macon, Savannah and Columbus Campuses


MACON/SAVANNAH/COLUMBUS – Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently named its 2016 Distinguished Preceptors for the Macon, Savannah and Columbus campuses.

Dr. James M. Elsbree of Acworth, Dr. James Douglas of Rome and Dr. Regina Justice of Coweta County were honored for their contributions to medical education at MUSM and as dedicated community-responsive physicians.

“Our preceptors are very important and valued members of our faculty who provide hundreds of hours of one-on-one education and mentoring at primary care practices across the state,” said Dr. Randolph Devereaux, assistant professor and assistant director of Mercer's Community Preceptor Network (CPN).

Acworth family medicine physician Dr. Elsbree was presented the award at MUSM's Honors Night in Macon. He practices at Wellstar Cornerstone Family Medicine in Acworth.

“Dr. James Elsbree is an exemplary role model and one of the best teachers I have worked with,” said Ali Kamran, a fourth-year medical student who nominated Dr. Elsbree for the honor. “He is an active member in the Acworth community, beloved by all of his patients. It is easy to see why once you work with Dr. Elsbree, as he exhibits all the terrific qualities in a physician such as compassion, patience and respect for his patients. Dr. Elsbree treats the medical students with the utmost respect and professionalism; he is an outstanding teacher who truly goes out of his way to help others. Dr. Elsbree is the quintessential community physician and well-deserving of this award.”

Rome family medicine physician Dr. Douglas was presented the award at MUSM's Honors Night in Savannah. He practices at Northwest Georgia Medical Clinic. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and served his residency in family medicine at Floyd Medical Center in Rome.

“Dr. James Douglas completes the Mercer mission to a T,” said Austin Rogers, a fourth-year medical student who nominated Dr. Douglas. “He is a family medicine doctor who truly sees all members of a family from a newborn baby to an elderly grandparent. When patients come to visit him, he is able to discuss their family and friends on a first-name basis.”

Coweta County pediatrician Dr. Justice was presented the award at her office. A 1998 graduate of MUSM, she currently practices at Just Us Kids Pediatrics in Newnan.

“Dr. Justice has a passion for teaching Mercer students through didactic lessons and being an excellent example,” said Kelly Ferrill, a third-year medical student who nominated Dr. Justice. “She treats her patients with care and dignity while taking the time to be friendly. She takes care of her community by paying attention to its needs and adapting her practice to better serve it.”

Each year, Distinguished Preceptors are selected from more than 300 MUSM volunteer primary care physician faculty members around the state of Georgia, each practicing in a rural or medically underserved area. Nominations are solicited from third- and fourth-year medical students from the three campuses.

Those nominated for the Distinguished Preceptor Award must exemplify the letter and the spirit of what it means to be a community-responsive physician, be recognized as a strong teaching physician and role model, and exhibit leadership in their communities.

“Acquiring a knowledge base and developing a clinical reasoning process are critical in the development of young physicians. Our preceptors provide the training environment that allows our students to learn and practice communication and physical examination skills. They serve not only as preceptors but often become lifelong mentors,” said Dr. Alice House, dean of the Columbus campus and professor of family medicine. “We are indebted to this dedicated group of physicians who give so much to the education of tomorrow's physician workforce.”

About the MUSM Community Preceptor Network

A recent study indicates that Mercer University School of Medicine is one of the most successful schools in the nation at producing physicians who practice in rural areas, shortage areas and low-income areas. Approximately 65 percent of Mercer's medical school graduates return to Georgia to practice. To support the educational endeavors of the school, Mercer's Community Preceptor Network (CPN) currently serves 110 counties in Georgia, affording students rich opportunities to develop skills related to clinical practice and community-responsiveness in rural and underserved areas and populations. Currently, CPN has more than 300 community-based, clinical faculty members in internal medicine, general surgery, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics. Mercer preceptors dedicate their time and energy to the development of the University's medical students, each providing more than 400 hours of focused medical and community-based training to each student throughout the course of the student's medical education. During the year, somewhere in the state of Georgia, a Mercer medical student is furthering his or her education with the assistance of a physician in the Community Preceptor Network. For more information, visit  

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 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 Midtown 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. and Psy.D. in clinical medical psychology.