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Released May10, 2004


HATTIESBURG - Twelve students from The University of Southern Mississippi have been accepted into medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson next fall.

The number of admissions is a significant increase from previous years, said UMC Dean of Admissions Dr. Steven Case.

"In recent years, it would be more typical to have between three and five students accepted, so for Southern Miss to jump to this number is a tremendous change this year," Dr. Case said.

Last year, seven students were admitted to medical school at UMC, and over the last three years, the number of applicants admitted has more than doubled.

Dr. Case, two assistant deans from UMC and two Southern Miss alumni who recently completed their first year of medical school in Jackson visited the Hattiesburg campus April 22 for a luncheon honoring the newly admitted students.

The list of students accepted include the following: Olivia Berry of Gulfport; Blaine Britt of Wesson; Jason Jones of Hattiesburg; John Logan of Laurel; Amber McIlwain of Waynesboro; Brian Newman of Pearl; Daryl Pollard of Heidelberg; Amanda Smith of Laurel; Patrick Whipple of Tupelo; Chasity Carpenter of Wesson; and T.J. Lawrence of Hattiesburg. Amanda Winters of Petal was also accepted but has selected to attend Tulane Medical School.

Brian Newman of Pearl, a senior nutrition major, said UMC was the only medical school he applied to because it was the only one he's ever wanted to attend. "I hear it's a totally different ballgame than undergraduate school, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Newman said he wants to specialize in surgery because he's "always been a hands-on type of person."

Dr. Case said UMC medical school looks for several things when selecting an applicant. A strong academic foundation in science and math is essential, he said, as is the evidence that "you can take that information and use it under standardized testing conditions."

"That's the way physicians get licensed nowadays," Dr. Case said.

Equally important are communication skills, he continued. "Our goal is not simply to train skilled physicians, but effective ones, and we think those personal attributes are what make the difference. So the group of kids we have here today have all those academic skills, but make no mistake, that's about half of why we selected them," Dr. Case said.

Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of the College of Science and Technology, said two components were responsible for Southern Miss' success. "We have outstanding students to work with, and our pre-professional advisor, Jan May, works very hard and is dedicated to helping these students apply and to helping them through the application process," Dr. Gandy said.

"These students have the technical background, but they also have people skills and the ability to present themselves. My college and other colleges at Southern Miss do a good job of preparing students to go out and sell themselves."

Southern Miss alumna Stephanie Brookshire of Hattiesburg, who just finished her first year of medical school at UMC, said the new recruits can expect the unexpected next year. "It's nothing like you see on TV. You won't know what it's going to be like until you get there, and it's extremely challenging. There is a big adjustment period, but it's definitely rewarding," Brookshire said.

Brookshire said she benefited from the strong undergraduate programs at Southern Miss. "You really need a strong background in certain courses or you get to medical school and it just blows your mind. But Southern Miss has a lot of professors that know a many of their students are looking toward medical school, so they gear their classes toward that," she said.

Dr. Case said incoming medical students today face challenges physicians of yesteryear did not face. He said the increase in the volume of information medical students they are responsible for has continued to grow, but the time they have to learn it has remained the same.

"It used to be that when you came out of medical school in four years, you'd learned everything there was to know. Today, when you come out in four years, you've just scratched the surface," Dr. Case said.

May, who serves as pre-professional advisor for the premedical, said she's not surprised that the majority of students who applied from Southern Miss this year have been accepted.

"First, they received the strong science and math background they needed from the fine faculty of the College of Science and Technology. Second, these students are exceptional. Not only are they outstanding academically, but I know from working with them that each is a compassionate person, each has a quality of humility and earnestness that I found reassuring. They're going to be great doctors," May said.


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May 17, 2004 3:25 PM