First Students from Agnes Scott/Mercer Linkage Accepted to Medical School

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Three students from Agnes Scott College’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program are the first to be admitted to Mercer University School of Medicine as part of a linkage agreement between the two schools.

The Agnes Scott students, Courtney Charvat, Kevin Freeman and Aparna Shreenath, have been accepted to Mercer for fall 2010.

The program was a good fit for Shreenath, who decided to transition from physics to medicine. She started the Agnes Scott Post-Bacc Pre-Med program last summer. Shreenath had a child just after completing her Ph.D. in physics at Georgia Institute of Technology and took some time off. She often volunteered at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, where she had recovered from her pregnancy.

“It started me thinking about other things. Most sciences seem to be preoccupied by health and health-related problems,” Shreenath said. “Pursuing medicine seemed to make more and more sense for me. And there was obviously a need for more doctors.”

Shreenath knew she wanted to start a career in medicine but wanted to get started quickly. The Agnes Scott program helped her get up to speed on college-level biology and chemistry courses.

“The one-on-one contact I got here – I don’t know that I could have gotten that anywhere else. It was very helpful,” she said.

After graduation, she will focus in part on clinical research, including cardiology and endocrinology and how the two are related. She plans to focus further on women’s health.

Freeman was also looking for a way to enter medical school as quickly as possible. Before starting Agnes Scott’s program, Freeman, a Newnan resident, was a therapist with a practice that provides mental health services in several counties south of Atlanta.

Freeman had considered going to medical school before getting his master’s degree in psychology from Mercer, but decided instead to start his own counseling practice after graduation.

“I fell right in love with counseling. I got a chance to experience the humanistic side of the clinician relationship,” Freeman said.

As he counseled pediatric and adolescent patients in underserved communities, Freeman realized that many of his patients’ problems had a medical connection that he was not qualified to help diagnose.

With a medical degree, he hopes to be able to link medical and mental health care for his patients.

Freeman said his time at Agnes Scott has been excellent preparation for medical school.

“It’s been one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had. The science department at Agnes Scott far exceeded any expectations I could have had, both interpersonally and academically,” he said.

After completing her degree in psychology from Georgia State University, Charvat enrolled in Agnes Scott’s Post-Bacc Pre-Med program. Originally from a small town outside New Orleans, she plans to practice medicine in a rural area.

Agnes Scott and Mercer signed the linkage agreement in June 2009. The partnership with Mercer is part of Agnes Scott’s Post-Bacc Pre-Med program, which offers a curriculum designed for career changers who lack the necessary science courses to apply for medical school. The one-year certificate program is the only one offered by a liberal arts college in Georgia.

Students admitted to Agnes Scott’s Post-Bacc Pre-Med program who meet the requirements of the linkage agreement may apply to Mercer University School of Medicine as "early assurance" candidates.

The biggest advantage for Post-Bacc Pre-Med students participating in the linkage agreement is that they can enroll in medical school immediately after successfully completing the program, said Nancy Devino, director of Agnes Scott’s Science Center for Women and director of the Post-Bacc Pre-Med program. The traditional medical school application process can take up to a year after completion of a Post-Bacc Pre-Med program, she added.

The program is gaining in popularity and has brought many highly qualified, nontraditional students to Agnes Scott, Devino said. The linkage program had a record number of applicants for this summer, and about one third of applicants have expressed an interest in the linkage agreement with Mercer, she added.

“This partnership enhances the credibility of our program and provides outside validation of the quality of students who complete the program,” Devino said. “The availability of the linkage agreement has really been a draw for applications. The partnership has made Agnes Scott’s program very exciting to students who may otherwise not have considered the college.”

To qualify for admission to Mercer under the linkage agreement, students must begin Agnes Scott’s Post-Bacc Pre-Med program in June, be residents of the State of Georgia and be willing to practice primary care in rural or underserved Georgia.

Once Agnes Scott Post-Bacc Pre-Med students apply to Mercer under the linkage agreement, they must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.5 or greater in the program, complete all prerequisite science courses required by Mercer, complete program requirements and earn an acceptable score on the MCAT. Students also must continue to demonstrate the personal, ethical and professional qualities necessary to become members of the student body of Mercer University School of Medicine and fulfill their roles as future physicians.

“We are very excited about the applications we received from Agnes Scott through the linkage agreement and are very much looking forward to matriculating the three students we accepted,” said Dr. Maurice Clifton, associate dean of admissions and student affairs at Mercer University School of Medicine. “They are each outstanding in their own way, and I am confident that they will be fantastic members of our class of 2014 and will go on to be excellent physicians serving rural and underserved Georgia.”

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.