EKU and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky announce expansion of Rural Medicine Scholarship 

By Lilli Dubler, Building Kentucky

Photo by Carsen Bryant, Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky have announced the expansion of the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship. The endowment helps grow the number of frontline health care workers in the eastern region of the state, increase access to care and improve health outcomes for more Kentuckians.  

Since its establishment in 2021, the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship at EKU has grown substantially, now totaling nearly $300,000. This expansion not only enriches EKU’s health science program, but also empowers students to provide care in underserved, rural communities. The recipients of the 2023 Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship are Jennifer Lee Benites, Kasi Nikole Hubbard Smith, Kayla Renee Purvis and Julia Taylor. Including this year’s four recipients, 14 EKU students have been awarded the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship. 

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Anthem Medicaid to offer students educational opportunities through the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship,” said Dr. David McFaddin, Eastern Kentucky University President. “The impact of the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship cannot be overstated. The initiative improves college access and affordability as well as brings more local providers to eastern Kentucky.” 

According to the Kentucky Hospital Association’s 2022 Workforce Survey Report, Kentucky hospitals reported more than 13,000 vacancies across 13 professional groups in 2021. Nursing topped the list with 22% of all nursing positions unfilled, and another 14% of nurses near retirement. Staffing shortages, coupled with the state’s high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, reinforce the need to expand the health care workforce in the Commonwealth. 

“Anthem is committed to closing the gap in health disparities and supporting Kentucky’s workforce through the implementation of innovative solutions that can reinvent healthcare across the state,” said Leon Lamoreaux, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky. “We are proud to continue our partnership with Eastern Kentucky University to expand support for students pursuing health care education. This effort helps guarantee the availability of high-quality care in every corner of the state, particularly in our rural and underserved communities where the need is most pronounced.” 

Eastern Kentucky lawmakers, EKU alumni State Representative Deanna Frazier (R-KY) and State Senator Jared Carpenter (R-KY), joined the chorus of individuals celebrating the impact of the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship. 

“As a proud Colonel alumna, Anthem’s latest scholarship opportunity is especially welcomed,” said Rep. Frazier. “Health care education ensures not only access for the future but job security for so many young people. It’s an exciting time to watch our community grow and for eastern Kentuckians to get the healthcare they deserve.” 

“It’s vitally important that we continue to support the local businesses, health care heroes and schools that are making a difference in the lives of so many of our family, friends and neighbors,” added Sen. Carpenter. “I’m thrilled to see Anthem and EKU continuing their important partnership to do just that for my constituents.” 

This announcement builds on Anthem Medicaid’s recent partnerships with several other higher education institutions across Kentucky, including Hazard Community & Technical College, Murray State University, the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University. Since 2021, Anthem Medicaid has awarded $800,000 to expand education and access to rural health care across the Commonwealth. 

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