3RNet Blog

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We put our experts to the test to find out what makes Mississippi a great place to live and work. We are fortunate to have two perspectives from the Magnolia state: our Mississippi 3RNet member, Kara M. Aldridge, 3RNet Mississippi member; and one of her in-state partners, Janice Sherman, CEO, Community Health Center Association of Mississippi. Together, Kara and Janice tell us more about what they know and love about the state they call home.

City, State:

Kara: Jackson, Mississippi

Janice: Jackson, Mississippi 

What organization do you work for?

Kara: Mississippi Office of Rural Health and Primary Care/MS State Department of Health

Janice: Community Health Center of Mississippi 

How long have you lived in Mississippi?

Kara: 57, years. Why do you choose to live there? Mississippi has a strong Bible belt, and especially, for me, having my church home here is a reason why I have remained here.

Janice: Although I have lived and worked in many other parts of country, Mississippi is where life began for me and I chose to return because I had an opportunity to come back to my home state with hopes of impacting the rural healthcare access needs across the state.

How is 3RNet impacting Mississippi?

Kara: A great deal, very beneficial resources as it relates to workforce efforts. The 3RNet team was able to come to our state to share their knowledge and resources as it relates to workforce efforts with the FQHC’s during their annual conference activities.  We have had volumes of calls to ask questions and to aid the centers in this area.

Janice: 3RNet is making a significant impact through its work with Mississippi’s Primary Care Office and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

What are the biggest cultural events that happen in Mississippi?

Janice:  

  • Neshoba County Choctaw Indian Fair – July – Choctaw, Mississippi
  • Mississippi Delta Blues Festival – January – Greenville, Mississippi
  • Cruisin’ the Coast – October – Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Canton Flea Market – May and October – Canton, Mississippi
  • BB King Homecoming Festival – May – Indianola, Mississippi
  • Tupelo Elvis Festival – June – Tupelo, Mississippi
  • Neshoba County Fair – July/August – Philadelphia, Mississippi

Why should a health professional choose Mississippi over surrounding states?

Kara: Becoming a health professional in Mississippi allows ones impact to be felt at an almost seismic level.  Where in other more urbanized areas, a health professional may be one of many, in our beautiful state, clinicians are highly prized and can be the life’s blood to a community.

Janice: National research firm, Wallethub.com, has named Mississippi among the most desirable top ten states for establishing a new medical practice for the last several years.  Mississippi is tied with Maine and Washington as the most telemedicine-friendly state in the nation and continues to show promising advances across healthcare in technology, such as remoted patient monitoring and virtual patient access. 

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Mississippi?

Kara: Rural communities often experience difficulties in the recruitment and retention of physicians. Due to these difficulties, many rural areas turn to the recruitment of non-U.S. Citizen International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who trained on a J-1 visa to fill their physician positions. Also to improve access to health care and reduce shortage of physicians.

Janice: The medical residency programs operating within the State of Mississippi train a significant number of international students.  The J-1 Visa has helped some of our Community Health Centers recruit and retain international medical school graduate students, with some remaining for many years beyond the required timeframes for program participation.

Are healthcare professionals valued in Mississippi?

Janice: In 2012, the Mississippi Legislature established and funded the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce, designed to encourage medical students who are trained in residency programs within our state to remain after graduation and establish their medical practices here in Mississippi. The Mississippi Rural Scholarship Program was also established to encourage students entering graduate medical education to commit to return to a rural area in Mississippi to establish their medical practice in return for a scholarship investment given by the State for each year of their residency training. Mississippi has made financial investments in its residency students to retain them after graduation, demonstrating its willingness to invest in its healthcare professional workforce.

Why do people travel to Mississippi?  

Kara: Southern Hospitality! 

Janice: People travel to Mississippi for its museums, for its music, for its cultural events, for sporting events, and to enjoy its vast wide-open spaces and the recreation and relaxation that can be found there.

What sports teams does Mississippi have?

Janice: Mississippi is home to two Double A-affiliate minor league baseball teams: the Mississippi Braves and the Biloxi Shuckers. From collegiate to high school, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, swimming, and golf are all in abundance and supported fiercely by Mississippi residents.  

What is your favorite local food?

Kara: The most popular food in Mississippi is catfish. Mississippi is the catfish capital of the world. We’re also known for our Southern comfort foods.

Janice: Some of my favorite restaurants include: Mary Mahoney’s Restaurant in Biloxi; MM Shapley’s in Ridgeland; Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville, Ridgeland, Florence, and Biloxi; Weidman’s in Meridian; and Cock of the Walk in Ridgeland, Mississippi

What is Mississippi best known for?

Kara: Music, food, Antebellum homes, Southern hospitality, and the Mississippi River.

Janice: Mississippi is home of University Medical Center where the first human lung transplant was performed in 1963.

Mississippi is home to many well-known celebrities, including Jim Henson, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Gerald McRaney, Channing Tatum, Eudora Welty, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, and Jimmy Buffet, to name just a few.

Mississippi (Jackson) joins Helsinki, Moscow, and Bulgaria as the only sanctioned host sites for the International Ballet Competition.

Mississippi (Cleveland) opened its doors in 2016 to one of only four Grammy Museums in the United States, with the other three established in Los Angeles, CA, Nashville, TN, and Newark, NJ.

What is the biggest misconception about Mississippi?

Kara: That we live in a backward, uneducated, racist environment. The way Mississippi is often portrayed in the movies could not be further from the truth. We have accomplished a lot over the years and produce great talent from all diverse backgrounds. We have so much to be proud of. 

Janice: The biggest misconception about Mississippi is that living here means you are living life at a disadvantage, that living in Mississippi means you are living in a backward, uneducated, and racist environment.

What are the biggest industries in Mississippi?

Janice: Mississippi largest industries are agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, oil and gas, and gaming.  Some of Mississippi’s largest manufactures include Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding, Toyota, Nissan, Raytheon, Viking, Cooper Tires, Chevron, Dupont, and Roxul.

How is the weather/climate in Mississippi? 

Janice: Mississippi’s climate is warm and humid year-round throughout most of the state. Our far northern regions get a bit cooler than the southern regions, with the Gulf Coast area enjoying balmy winters by comparison to the northern regions.  The average January temperatures in Mississippi hover around 48 degrees, with the Gulf Coast typically enjoying temperatures in the lower 60’s.

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