Author: Martin L. Dalton, Jr. MD, FACS. Foreword by R. Kirby Godsey
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Book Review by: Nano Khilnani

The story behind the birth of the Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia – the subject of this book – is one filled with conflicts between people who had the dream to make it a reality and those who wanted to tear down that dream.

There was a need for family physicians and primary health care in and around the state. Although Macon Hospital had educational programs, no medical school existed, so there existed a real need for an institution that would educate and train people to become doctors to treat the sick and the aged. But it was very difficult to get the funding needed as well as the sustained commitment of people to work together in setting up a medical school.

This story is filled with defiance, despair, and doubt on the part of some individuals, as well as commitment, courage and certainty on the part of those who were determined to establish the institution and make it flourish.

In the end, those who had the determination to realize their dream of a medical school within the Mercer University educational system – the people with hope and vision – won over those who were overcome with faintness of heart, had faulty thinking, and possessed a fear of the unknown. It was a proud day for the positive thinkers when the Mercer University School of Medicine came into being in 1982

Raleigh Kirby Godsey PhD, who was president of Mercer University from 1979 to 2006, writes his description of this book in his Foreword:

“This is a story of courage, tenacity and devotion to principle. It is the story of how public-private partnerships can become powerful mechanisms for solving crippling social problems. Above all this story is a human story that reflects the selfless commitment of many individuals who worked tirelessly against great odds to make life better for future generations.”

This book is unique and different from other histories of medical schools in that it is a compilation of first-person accounts and narratives of people who saw the establishment of an institution that trains doctors to provide medical care to the people of Georgia and the South.

This book of events spanning 42 years of the aforementioned School of Medicine is divided into two main parts, preceded by a brief history of Mercer University and a medical history of Macon, Georgia.

Part I has six chapters. Each chapter covers a number of years grouped together by a dominant theme. They are:

  1. The Early Years: 1972-1976
  2. The Formative Years: 1977-1980
  3. Successful at Last: 1981-1985
  4. Early Skelton Years: 1986-1992
  5. The Expansive Years: 1993-2001
  6. The Maturation Years: 2002-2007

Part II contains bios of the various deans of the Mercer University School of Medicine who served over the years from 1972 onwards. The bios are followed by histories of the various departments and divisions of the school, each written by a different doctor. They include the departments’ functions, objectives and programs.

The book ends with histories of the schools’ medical library and learning resources center; of the Mercer/Memorial affiliation; and descriptions of Mercer/MCCG master’s program in nurse anesthesia; and the master of public health degree program.

Four appendices follow, each one honoring a distinguished individual who had a key role in making the establishment of the Mercer University School of Medicine a reality. A summing up of the 25 years of existence of this school is also provided next, followed by a timeline of events of 42 years, 1965-2007. Names of the founding clinical chair people are listed follow next, along with a list of contributors, personal interviews, and a paragraph-long About the Author.