Opinion: How Mercer can grow its medical school
There are a total of five medical schools in Georgia with enrollments ranging from 200 to nearly 1,000 students. Each one has medical care facilities including hospitals, clinics, primary care, sports medicine and psychiatric care. The largest and most famous of these are all staffed by Emory University’s medical school. So why is Emory so prominent? Why does Mercer’s medical school sit in their shadow and what can Mercer do to change that? Based on information from the university website for each school, Emory’s medical school was founded 67 years before Mercer’s medical school giving Emory more time to establish itself and build their patient care facilities. Moreover, Emory University has an endowment of nearly $7 billion while Mercer University has an endowment of only $330 million. Emory is nationally ranked by StartClass in the top 25 medical schools and opened its first hospital on campus in 1922. Around the same time, Emory affiliated with Grady Memorial Hospital. Mercer did not open its medical school until 1982. Although Mercer has a handful of medical care facilities, it still lacks a hospital. If Mercer opened a hospital in Macon now, it would be difficult to contend with the Coliseum Hospitals and The Medical Center Hospitals, both of which were founded before Mercer’s medical school was established. Even though Mercer cannot change when its medical school was founded, it can campaign to increase the publicity of its current medical facilities, and the university can invest in cutting-edge research technology with the goal of opening the first Mercer University hospital. This would add to the five medical offices Mercer currently has in Macon. Mercer needs to advertise the services offered to the students and the citizens of Middle Georgia. Mercer should start by advertising to the students during first-semester orientation more than it does. The student health center, located on the first floor of the medical school building, provides medical services to all students regardless of insurance. Mercer also has a sports medicine clinic on campus which provides primary care for athletes. It is available to all students and the public, but few people seem to know much about it. For Mercer to increase its medical notoriety, it must start by informing students more than they do now. To reach the public, Mercer also needs to take advantage of advertising available to them by promoting its family medicine office and other specialty offices at sporting events and other events open to the public. All of the specialty offices may be used by students in the same capacity that they would use the service of a doctor at home. After generating new business through advertising, Mercer will have extra revenue to invest in the latest research technology. The medical students will have access to a higher quality of education, leading them to be more qualified doctors. Even though the Mercer medical school is currently ranked 128 in the best medical schools in the nation, Mercer could be in the top 50 medical schools soon. Once Mercer has increased both notoriety and revenue, it will then have the ability to open a hospital by expanding its current building in downtown Macon. The highly qualified medical graduates that will staff the hospital, and the continued success of the other medical specialties will make Mercer a national name in both long-term and emergency care and will perhaps one day overshadow Emory.