The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program is recognizing both a Mississippi State student and a recent graduate for their commitment and academic achievements in preparing to become rural primary-care physicians.
Tameka S. Carmichael, a May magna cum laude biochemistry graduate from Pachuta, and Joanna E. "Joie" Boyles, a junior biological sciences/pre-medicine major from Lucedale, recently were selected for the two-year undergraduate portion of MRPSP.
Carmichael is the daughter of Barbara Jefferson and Johnnie Carmichael, while Boyles' parents are William Boyles of Lucedale and Kaye Harris of Gretna, La.
MRPSP provides resources for rural Mississippi students to earn attendance into medical school while learning the healing arts from practicing rural physicians. After graduation, participants agree to serve four years in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 20,000 people or fewer, and located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.
Only 20 undergraduates in the Magnolia State are chosen to participate.
In addition to preparing students to complete the Medical College Admission Test, for which preparation is valued at around $2,000, the program also provides clinical experiences in rural settings.
"In order for our state to grow and prosper, we must focus on our most underserved communities, and the problem, in my opinion, is that young people or doctors are not willing to stay within rural parts of Mississippi to grow their communities," Boyles said. "That is what the Mississippi Rural Physicians Program is working toward: training physicians to work within these rural communities and greatly improving the quality of life of these towns and improving the state as a whole."
After they complete the medical school admissions requirements, Carmichael and Boyles will attain direct entry to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. Students in the program also may receive annual medical school scholarships of $30,000, up to a total of $120,000, based on available funding.
"Being selected as a participant is an honor and privilege because I have the opportunity to learn from the many doctors before me on how to become a successful physician," Carmichael said. "This program also allows me the opportunity to receive a scholarship that will help me to focus entirely on my studies in medical school instead of worrying about financial burdens."
Each participant is paired with a practicing rural physician mentor throughout their training, as well as receiving academic support.
"I am from a rural town myself, so I have seen firsthand the need for better health care," Boyles said. "As I am putting myself through school, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity; it has put me one step closer to my dream."
After they complete medical training, MRPSP scholars are required to enter an approved residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, or pediatrics.
"Serving medical needs in rural areas is important to the state because it will greatly improve the health of many individuals who may not want or have the ability to drive 30-plus miles to the nearest hospital or clinic," Carmichael said. "Many of these same individuals will, in turn, most likely have health issues in the early stages rather than later. Lastly, serving in rural areas ultimately increases the number of much-needed physicians across Mississippi."
More information about MRPSP is available at http://mrpsp.umc.edu.