Created: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:42:00 EST
Updated: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:21:14 EST
65 incoming Mercer University medical students stand tall as they prepare to start a new journey in their lives.
Mercer welcomes the students with a white coat ceremony as faculty cloak students in their coats for the first time.
"The white coat is a symbol of professional and the ethical behavior of physicians," said Dr. William Bina, the Dean of the School of Medicine.
Many students say they have an idea of what their primary role as future doctors will be.
"It's an exciting way to show that you've just started on this journey, three years, ten months as they say today," said medical student Sebastian Hyman.
Dr, Bruce Innes, a professor at Mercer, says there is a need for doctors in the state due to a shortage in general surgery.
Innes says part of the shortage is because more doctors today are retiring at earlier times.
Since 1982, 1200 hundred medical students have graduated from Mercer and 63 percent of them have come back to practice in their home state.
"We make every effort to keep them here in the state of Georgia, so that they can impact the practice of medicine in the state of Georgia," Innes said.
Mercer continues to graduate more then a 100 med students a year with the hopes many return to practice in Georgia.
Of the 63 percent that return, 80 percent are practicing in rural areas or places that have limited doctors.
The advantage that Mercer med graduates will have is spending their third and fourth year in hospitals and other medical facilities practicing what they've learned.
During their four years, the students will participate in core clinical workshops at local hospitals in Macon.