Med­i­cal stu­dents in love,

Modern Healthcare - - MODERN HEALTHCARE -

Look out Match.com. A state pro­gram for train­ing ru­ral physi­cians has some pretty im­pres­sive Cupid cre­den­tials.

Close to 14% of the 43 par­tic­i­pants in the Mis­sis­sippi Ru­ral Physi­cians Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram have mar­ried some­one else in the pro­gram, for a to­tal of three wed­dings since the pro­gram started in 2008, says Janie Guice, who runs the largely state-funded ef­fort as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

The pro­gram, which pro­motes pri­mary-care ed­u­ca­tion through schol­ar­ships and med­i­cal school prepa­ra­tion, has not re­sorted to per­son­al­ity sur­veys, group hot-tub dates or even rose cer­e­monies to achieve its mar­i­tal rate. The clos­est the ru­ral schol­ars pro­gram has got­ten to a wild party are reg­u­lar “gab and grub” ses­sions in which the re­cip­i­ents meet in the union for free food to share sto­ries and ad­vice on sur­viv­ing med­i­cal school, she says.

Guice says a com­mon thread is that par­tic­i­pants tend to share “a mis­sion­ary-like zeal” for med­i­cal care, and maybe that is play­ing a role in fos­ter­ing ro­mance. Kelsey and Chad Dow­ell formed one of the three mar­riages, and are com­plet­ing their first year of os­teo­pathic train­ing at Wil­liam Carey Univer­sity Col­lege of Os­teo­pathic Medicine in Hat­ties­burg.

Most schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents at­tend the Univer­sity of Mis­sis­sippi School of Medicine in Jack­son, with a smaller con­tin­gent at Carey.

Ro­mance aside, Guice says the schol­ar­ship pro­gram is do­ing well, adding 13 to 15 stu­dents an­nu­ally who re­ceive $30,000 apiece a year for med­i­cal school. And the state will soon open a physi­cian work­force of­fice that will work to ex­pand lo­cal res­i­dency slots, she says.

And while Guice says she wouldn’t use its mar­riage rate to pro­mote the pro­gram, she de­clined to say that find­ing a po­ten­tial spouse is not a pos­si­bil­ity. “Leav­ing with a spouse is not guar­an­teed. But it could hap­pen. Birds of a feather flock to­gether.”

Kelsey and Chad Dow­ell are one of three cou­ples in the schol­ar­ship pro­gram who’ve tied the knot.

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