Medical school ranking should be point of pride for Hattiesburgers

Last week, we reported that the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is headquartered in Hattiesburg, was recently ranked third in the nation in producing primary care physicians by U.S. News and World Report.

The top three schools in the list were separated by barely more than a percentage point, and the ranking is a tremendous achievement for a relatively new medical school.

The medical school admitted its first class of students in 2010 after years of careful planning by the university administration, and that first class graduated six years ago. The most recent class graduated Saturday, and they joined the ranks of more than 600 doctors of osteopathic medicine trained by William Carey.

Those doctors are practicing across the country, and many have remained in Mississippi or surrounding states.

The ranking is also the fulfillment of a promise made by the William Carey administration when they announced the opening of the school at a press conference in Jackson in 2008.

The school is the second medical school in the state, and it was established, in part, to train doctors to serve underserved populations, particularly in the Gulf South region. Administrators promised to improve access to health care in Mississippi, and part of that pledge included graduating more primary care physicians.

To that end, the university recently reported that 78 percent of its graduates have entered primary care residencies over the past three years. Instead of resting on its laurels, the school is doubling down on its commitment to produce much-needed doctors.

Administrators recently announced plans to double the size of the medical school’s incoming class over the next three academic years. Currently, the school accepts 100 new students each academic year from a pool of several thousand applicants.

In the upcoming academic year, the class size will grow to 150 students, and an additional 25 students will be added for the 2021-2022 school year. In the 2022-2023 school year, the school will accept 200 new students for a total enrollment of 800 students.

As a William Carey alumnus, I’m particularly proud of the accomplishments of the medical school, especially since I was a student and later an employee at the university during the school’s early years.

I enrolled at the university in 2010 at the same time the school admitted its first class, and, as a member of the university’s public relations staff in 2014, I helped that inaugural class of 94 doctors celebrate their graduation. In fact, I was reminded of that event just last week through Facebook’s “Memories” feature.

It was a happy time for all involved, and the university staff breathed a collective sigh of relief after a rigorous but successful accreditation process.

Dr. Italo Subbarao, dean of the medical school, and his faculty and staff members, along with university administrators, should be commended for staying true to the mission of the medical school and for putting such an emphasis on improving the health care of Mississippians.

The ranking is a testament to a lot of hard work, and Hattiesburg as a whole should be proud of the school. It’s a fantastic addition to our city, and I look forward to its continued growth and success.