Through a coordinated effort between the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn University, UAB’s School of Medicine, the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan, and the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, students from rural Alabama interested in the medical field can receive scholarships to help pay for medical school.
As a result, 29 recipients of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama medical scholarship program are now practicing primary care medicine in rural areas of the state.
“Over the last 7 years, 144 medical students have been awarded a Blue Cross medical scholarship. Now that the scholarship recipients are graduating and establishing their practices, we are seeing the results of the program we were hoping for,” said Dr. Darrel Weaver, vice president, Healthcare Network Services, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “Many Alabamians now have access to the quality healthcare they need, giving them peace of mind and resulting in better health outcomes.”
Dr. Whitni Richard, a recipient, emphasized the importance of the scholarships.
“It’s really important we have enough physicians to not only take care of the people in Enterprise but also the smaller towns surrounding Enterprise,” said Richard. “Not having the extra stress of having to pay back student loans allows me to focus on what is most important which is caring for my patients.”
To help address a lack of primary care and behavioral health physicians in Alabama, Blue Cross made available $11 million in scholarship funding. To receive a scholarship, recipients have to agree to practice as primary care or behavioral health physicians in underserved, rural areas of the state.
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.