Two Middle Tennessee colleges have teamed up to help students become primary care physicians, which have been needed in rural areas of the state.
The partnership between Middle Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College was made official Thursday.
"We're working in collaboration to address one of Tennessee's most pressing health needs," Dr. Sidney McPhee, president of MTSU, said.
The joint program will fast-track students to becoming primary care physicians, and their tuition will be paid for so they don't have a burden of debt.
"We need to find students who are both exceptional, but also committed to the idea of being a primary care physician in the rural settings in Tennessee," Dr. James Hildreth, President of Meharry, said.
Students will spend three years at MTSU followed by three years at Meharry. After graduation, the students must work in parts of Tennessee that need doctors the most.
The program has been looking for students that know they want to be doctors.
"I knew from high school that I wanted to be a physician," Dr. Digna Forbes, Associate Dean for Medical Education at Meharry, said. "If you know that you want to do primary care, you want to stay in your community, this is a win-win. You get to stay in Tennessee, you get to take care of the people you want to take care of, and you don't have that debt."
The program has been expected to launch in the fall of 2018 if legislators allocate the $750,000 needed for the program, as they're expected to do.