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First 'fast-track' doctors graduate from MUMC and Mercer University

memorial mercer grad.jpg
Dr. Daniel Gordon and Dr. Mary Keith are the first two graduates of the Family Medicine Accelerated Track Program (PC-ACT) between Memorial University Medical Center and Mercer University School of Medicine. They are pictured with Rep. Butch Parrish, who was instrumental in getting the fast track program started. (Credit: Josie Gregory)

Two local medical programs have officially graduated their first family medicine fast-track doctors.

Dr. Daniel Gordon and Dr. Mary Keith graduated from the Family Medicine Accelerated Track Program (PC-ACT) between Memorial University Medical Center and Mercer University School of Medicine on Thursday.

Gordon and Keith are the first two medical students to do so.

The fast track program crams four years of medical school into three.

Officials say the program is part of an effort to address Georgia's physician shortage in rural areas.

Georgia has been ranked 45th out of 50 states for primary care physicians per capita.

The program is also designed to reduce the financial burden on the students, as medical school can be quite costly.

MUMC and Mercer launched the program in 2014 with only Gordon and Keith, but it has since grown to a program with 17 enrolled students.

Gordon and Keith said the intense work load is a trade off for the benefits upon graduating.

"We traded our summer breaks for time on the hospital floor. We combined some classes to have two-in-one, so we had double the work load," Gordon said.

"It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it and, it's easy to do hard work when it's something you're really interested in and you're really passionate about," Keith said.

The program only accepts the top medical school applicants. Staff are already accepting applications for Gordon's and Keith's now-vacant spots.