NY diversity scholarship to help ease physician shortage
With many states across the U.S. facing physician shortages, New York established a scholarship plan it hopes will Provide physicians for its medically underserved areas and will help Decrease medical students’ debt load.
Medical school is a daunting financial proposition for anyone, but for those from underrepresented groups it can be a deal-breaker – and that’s one of the factors in the lack of physicians from underrepresented groups. Even in a diverse state like New York, where African-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos comprise more than 30 percent of the population, they make up only 12 percent of the physician workforce, according to data from the State University of New York Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies.
The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) Diversity in Medicine Scholarship is pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition (currently $42,000/year) and is available to students who have completed an AMSNY post-baccalaureate program and who agree to work in an underserved area in New York state upon completion of their medical education.
University at Buffalo (UB) medical students Karole Collier and Bradley Frate are two such students who are currently studying at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. UB has 10 recipients of the new Diversity in Medicine scholarship first funded by the New York State Legislature in 2017 and renewed in the state budget passed last month. The renewal means they will have most of their medical school tuition covered for 2018-19.
Collier and Frate are also graduates of UB’s post-baccalaureate program funded by the state Department of Health and supported by the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY). The yearlong, intense, academic program provides students from economically or educationally underserved areas with guaranteed acceptance at a New York State medical school provided the student successfully completes the program.
The Diversity in Medicine scholarship is reserved for students with excellent academic track records who also exhibit a dedication and eagerness to practice in underserved communities. For Karole Collier, whose family lives in Brooklyn, the scholarship provides her with the freedom to focus on the underserved. She says her commitment to the underserved began in her teens, when her father spent a year in the hospital after a routine hernia operation, which should have been just a few days. While her father did eventually recover, the experience opened her eyes to how health disparities can affect individuals on a deeply personal level. “Like many others, my father, a fairly healthy and compliant 50-year-old was subjected to limited access, scarce resources and numerous socioeconomic and historical inequities,” she said.
Bradley Frate became interested in medicine at the age of 10, when his father was diagnosed with a tumor. Luckily, it turned out to be benign, but Frate stayed in touch with his father’s physician, whom he eventually shadowed and worked with before medical school. After shadowing physicians in Costa Rica while studying abroad as an undergraduate, he developed a commitment to the underserved. That commitment stayed with him when he returned. “I realized the problem is also here,” he said.
For Frate, the scholarship means the freedom to pursue medicine the way he wants to, without the financial pressures that most students endure from substantial student loans. “I don’t necessarily want to pick the most lucrative specialty or to work in an area already saturated with physicians,” said Frate, a Rochester native. “I don’t want to have to pick a specialty or geographic region to practice based on whether or not I will be able to pay back my loans. I want it to be about where I’m needed most and what best aligns with my interests and aspirations — which is to practice in an underserved area with underserved populations in New York.”
More information on the AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship is available at https://amsny.org/initiatives/diversity-in-medicine/diversity-programs/diversity-in-medicine-scholarship/.