Growing up in an underserved Phoenix community, Abigail Solorio witnessed health care disparities firsthand and distinctly remembers never seeing a doctor who looked like her or her family members. Now a first-year University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix student and graduate of the Pathway Scholars Program, she is committed to changing that narrative as a future primary care physician (PCP) and recipient of a new, innovative scholarship program.
Solorio is one of the first 29 student recipients at UArizona Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix who have received the University of Arizona Primary Care Physician Scholarship. These students – eight in Phoenix and 21 in Tucson – are dedicated to increasing access to consistent, culturally sensitive health care for those in Arizona who need it most.
“There are definitely people throughout Arizona who have considered studying medicine because they want to come back to their communities to serve, but they don’t know how they’re going to pay for it.” -Cazandra Zaragoza, fourth-year student, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson
To create this next generation of PCPs, University of Arizona Health Sciences partnered with the State of Arizona in 2019 to take steps to tackle the shortage. In May, the State Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey approved $8 million in annual funding to support free tuition through the University of Arizona Primary Care Physician Scholarship Program.
The scholarship addresses two critical issues in health care: Arizona’s severe shortage of primary care physicians and rising medical student debt. Once the scholarship is fully implemented, about 100 medical students could benefit, and the effects will multiply throughout the state.
Second-year UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson student Caylan Moore looks forward to returning and practicing medicine in his underserved urban community. “Having an opportunity like this takes away that financial burden and really allows me to focus on what I want to do, instead of picking based on what’s going to pay me the most,” he said. “I want to be a living representation that no matter where you come from, you can achieve any dream you desire.”
Solorio also expressed passion for returning to her community to practice. “To be able to commit to serving in Arizona is very exciting,” she said. “This is a passion of mine. This is why I went into medicine.”