Primary care in rural Alabama gets a boost with 11 UAB medical student scholarships awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama scholarship recipients. Back row from the left: Griffin Russell, Joseph Shaw, Phillip Ingram, Wesley Minor. Front row from the left: Benjamin Chappell, Madilyn Tomaso, Jennifer Lamar, Sarah Summerlin and Dusty Trotman. Not pictured: Carson Klein and Jayla Robinson. Photo via Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

The load of medical school costs just got lighter for 11 UAB students, thanks to a scholarship from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The goal of the scholarship is to address the lack of primary care in rural Alabama–learn more about it and the recipients below. 

The need and the scholarship

Recent studies have shown that many Alabamians don’t have access to a primary care physician. In fact, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Alabama has 119 Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) affecting more than 2.5 million people. To address this need, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is investing $3.6 million in scholarships over five years for UAB students. 

To be eligible for the scholarship, students agree to practice as primary care or behavioral health physicians for a minimum of three years in a rural area of Alabama–defined by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama as a population of 50,000 or less–following their residency.

The recipients

Students in their third year of medical school at UAB are eligible for the scholarship. Below are the 2019 recipients:

  • Benjamin Chappell (Alex City, AL)
  • Phillip Ingram (Sylacauga, AL)
  • Carson Klein Salem, AL
  • Jennifer Lamar Eva, AL
  • Wesley Minor (Cordova, AL)
  • Jayla Robinson (Addison, AL)
  • Griffin Russell (Birmingham, AL)
  • Joseph Shaw (Centre, AL)
  • Sarah Summerlin (Phenix City, AL)
  • Madilyn Tomaso (Fairhope, AL)
  • Dusty Trotman (Fort Payne, AL)

Plans for practice

We spoke with two scholarship recipients about their plans for practicing after residency.

Dusty Trotman. Photo via Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Dusty Trotman is hoping to return to his hometown in Dekalb County. “In the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to go back home or close to home,” he said. “I really appreciate BCBS doing this for me. It gave me an opportunity to go back as well as financial stability. I’m really fortunate to be in this situation.” 

Wesley Minor. Photo via Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Wesley Minor, another scholarship recipient, knew he wanted to work in rural medicine. “I want to practice in a smaller town so I can really get to know my patients,” he said. He’s focusing on family medicine and sports medicine, and envisions working with local high school sports teams. 

The impact

Helping students with medical school tuition and ensuring access to primary care for underserved Alabamians sounds like a win-win to us. Way to go, y’all!

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Taylor Babington
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