Dr. Jean Sumner Appointed Associate Dean for Rural Health in School of Medicine


MACON – Wrightsville physician Jean Rawlings Sumner, M.D., has been appointed to the newly created position of associate dean for rural health in the Mercer University School of Medicine. The appointment was effective Nov. 1.

A member of the first class of physicians to graduate from the Mercer School of Medicine in 1986, Dr. Sumner has practiced internal medicine in Johnson County and has been a community faculty preceptor for the School of Medicine since completing her residency at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Navicent Health, in 1989.

As associate dean for rural health, Dr. Sumner will support the School's service to rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia by developing strategies, relationships and policy initiatives regarding access of services, improved health status, and enhancement of student and resident medical education experiences in rural settings.

“Dr. Sumner has demonstrated exceptional administrative and leadership skills at community, state and regional levels,” said William F. Bina III, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the Mercer School of Medicine. “She has served as hospital chief of staff and nursing home medical director, plus serving as a board member, chair, and president of numerous community and statewide professional organizations. At the state level, she has served most recently as a governor-appointed member, then president and medical director, for the Georgia Composite Medical Board. We are pleased to have her serving in this new role at the Mercer School of Medicine.”

“I'm honored to be asked to serve in this position and look forward to working with the Mercer School of Medicine faculty and staff to improve health care in rural Georgia,” Dr. Sumner said.

“The appointment of Dr. Sumner to this key leadership role will expand the already-strong commitment that the School of Medicine and the University have to rural health in our state, a commitment to the people of Georgia that dates back to the School's founding in 1982,” said Dr. Hewitt W. (Ted) Matthews, senior vice president for health sciences.

Mercer School of Medicine has been remarkably effective in achieving its mission. It ranks first in Georgia and second in the nation with 65 percent of graduates returning to their home state to serve the medical needs of its citizens. By comparison, nationally only 38.7 percent of all medical students practice medicine in the state in which they received their medical education.

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, 65 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 the state. 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 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. and Psy.D. in clinical medical psychology.

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​