Earlier this year, the University of Arizona Health Sciences partnered with the State of Arizona to launch the Primary Care Physician Scholarship Program, which addresses two critical issues in health care:
Arizona’s severe shortage of primary care physicians and rising amount of debt for medical students.
Aileen Lee, a first-year student at the College of Medicine – Tucson, was inspired to pursue a career in primary care after serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer in rural Cochise County last year. She was thrilled to be able to apply for the Primary Care Physician Scholarship.
“The PCP scholarship definitely was a factor in my decision to attend the College of Medicine – Tucson,” Lee said.
“The school has the same values I do. I truly care about primary care and making health care accessible. In Cochise County, I saw the effects of having to drive a couple hours just to see a primary care physician. I believe that this needs to change.”
The PCP Scholarship, awarded annually to incoming and current students at the College of Medicine – Tucson an College of Medicine – Phoenix, covers tuition for students who pursue a primary care specialty and commit to practicing in a rural or urban underserved Arizona community for up to four years, depending on how many years they receive the scholarship.
“The school has the same values I do. I truly care about primary care and making health care accessible.” -Aileen Lee, Primary Care Physician Scholarship recipient
For the 2020-21 academic year, 57 students are scholarship recipients, including eight first-year students at each college. These students mark the first PCP Scholarship cohort who will complete four years of medical school tuition-free.
“The scholarship really solidified my decision in choosing University of Arizona Health Sciences,” said first-year College of Medicine – Phoenix student Taylor Elinski, who is originally from Gilbert, Arizona.
“I’ve always known I wanted to integrate my future career as a physician with serving the community. The scholarship was something that told me ‘Yes, you're absolutely meant to be here.’”
Once the scholarship program is fully implemented, about 100 medical students across both colleges will benefit each year. The effects will multiply throughout the state as graduates complete their residencies and begin serving the state’s high-need areas. For many students, this will mean fulfilling a dream of returning home and making an impact on the health of their own community.
Tomorrow’s physicians can practice medicine without the burden of medical-school debt, and medically underserved Arizonans can gain increased access to consistent primary care.