• 2017 ROMP Career Fair Showcases Mississippi 
    Rural and Small Town Medical Practice Options 

    It was a day filled with networking, handshaking, and learning as medical students and residents met with healthcare employers, agencies, and representatives at this year’s Rural Opportunities for Mississippi Physician’s Career Fair (ROMP) on April 22nd at the Jackson Marriott.

    ROMP is specifically designed for primary care students and physicians who may be interested in relocating to rural or small town Mississippi communities. The Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) co-host the annual event which is now in its second year.

    Held in conjunction with MAFP’s Spring Fling, ROMP provides students and physicians with the opportunity to network, meet potential employers, and investigate special incentives such as loan forgiveness and repayment options.

    Kailen Reves, Clinical Rotations Counselor at William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine (WCUCOM), enjoyed the career fair’s sense of camaraderie. “ROMP was a great event for WCUCOM students to work with preceptors, residents, and other students. It provided the perfect opportunity to start developing relationships with Family Medicine residency programs and rural Mississippi employers that may be beneficial to them down the road. We definitely plan to continue to attend every year.”

    Dr. John Mitchell Dr. John Mitchell, Director of the Office of Mississippi Workforce (OMPW) and founder of ROMP, was pleased with the enthusiastic turnout. “I’m glad to see this level of interest and involvement,” he said. “Improving Mississippi’s physician workforce is central to improving Mississippi’s healthcare. ROMP provides great opportunities to make new contacts that will, in turn, help students and residents launch new careers in their future home communities.

    The Rural Route

    The demand for primary care physicians, especially those practicing in rural areas, is expected to sharply increase in the coming years. The rural population of those ages 55 to 75 is estimated to grow 30 percent between 2010 and 2020 due, in part, to retiring baby boomers migrating from urban areas. Nearly half of Mississippians live in rural areas where they experience many of the same health challenges as their metro counterparts. 

    Although still in last place at 185 physicians per 100,000 residents (compared to the national median of 251 per 100,000), the state fares better at retaining its graduates. Mississippi ranks fourth in keeping medical school graduates and 13th in retaining residents

    Craig Bullock, a third-year UMMC medical student and Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship recipient, plans to practice family medicine following graduation and residency. A native of Blue Springs, he understands that high demand for rural physicians. “I grew up in a very small town so I know how important it is to have a family doctor you can trust,” he said. “I’ll be responsible for handling anything that comes through the door, from infections to broken bones.”

    Now in its tenth year, The Mississippi Physicians Scholarship Program (MRPSP) offers scholarships to rural medical students in the state who agree to practice in underserved rural areas of Mississippi upon completion of their degree. The program is designed for students currently residing in rural areas of Mississippi who wish to return to those areas to practice medicine. Students are mentored throughout the program from undergraduate school through initial practice.

    "I came to love the idea of primary care through my involvement with MRPSP activities as an undergraduate at North East Mississippi Community College," said Bullock. "I was strongly considering a  career in medicine and MRPSP gave me the means to turn my dreams into a reachable goal." 

    Wendy Powell, Director of Marketing at Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, said “As a company insuring physicians working and living in Mississippi, the ROMP Career Fair is a must for us. At MACM, we want to keep physicians in Mississippi for the benefit of all patients in the state. ROMP is a great opportunity to visit with medical students and residents (and our future insureds) and encourage them to practice in Mississippi.”

    ROMP is the result of a collaborative partnership of the following healthcare organizations:

    Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians
    Mississippi Hospital Association
    Mississippi Osteopathic Medical Association
    Mississippi Primary Health Care Association
    Mississippi Rural Health Association
    Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program
    Mississippi State Medical Association
    Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce
    Office of Rural Health, Mississippi State Department of Health
    University of Mississippi School of Medicine
    William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine

    For more information about next year’ ROMP Career Fair, contact the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce at 601-815-0736 or info@ompw.org.

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