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New scholarship donation will benefit medical students in rural health care

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University of Kentucky announces financial aid for Rural Physician Leadership Program.

rural health sign: © Andrey - stock.adobe.com

health sign: © Andrey - stock.adobe.com

A new scholarship program will offer a financial boost for medical students dedicated to rural health care.

The University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky this month announced a donation of $100,000 for fourth-year medical students in the college’s Rural Physician Leadership Program (RPLP). There will be seven scholarships awarded over the next four years to students who have demonstrated a financial need and intend to practice medicine in a rural area upon completing their residencies, according to plans.

“This generous gift will equip more mission-driven students with the training to become doctors who can fulfill vital health care needs in rural communities,” UK College of Medicine Dean Charles “Chipper” Griffith III, MD, said in a news release. “The College of Medicine is incredibly grateful for Anthem’s commitment to enhancing health care access and allowing more students to fulfill their dreams.”

Starting more than 10 years ago, RPLP has graduated 110 physicians, with 46 currently practicing rural medicine and 35 of them in Kentucky. Half have gone into primary care residencies, including internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.

Each year, up to a dozen RPLP students complete their first two years of education at UK’s main campus in Lexington, then years three and four in Morehead State University (MSU), with rotations in the St. Claire HealthCare system and other rural clinics in the area, according to UK. At MSU, eight faculty are RPLP alumni who currently practice medicine.

The announcement included comments from Makayla Arnett, an RPLP fourth-year medical student who grew up in Kentucky and discovered the program as an undergraduate at MSU.

“My educational experiences here in Morehead have been irreplaceable. My clinical rotations have solidified my love for health care and the Appalachian region,” she said. “As a future physician, my goal is to impact my patients’ lives and my community, and provide compassionate care to people who need it most. The Rural Physician Leadership Program has given me that and so much more.”

The first round of Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarships will be announced at RPLP’s Match Day Celebration in March 2024.

The scholarship grant was the second financial enrichment for medical students specializing in rural health care. In October, the University of Louisville announced a four-year federal grant of $16 million for programming to train medical students to serve in primary care in underserved rural areas.

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