Helping hometown health care heroes, UofL and Anthem Kentucky Medicaid launch new rural medicine scholarship

By Lilli Dubler, Building Kentucky

The University of Louisville (UofL) and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky recently announced an endowed scholarship to increase access to care and improve health equity in Kentucky’s rural areas. The Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship will support up to four students at the UofL Trover Campus through a $100,000 gift from Anthem Medicaid that will serve students for years to come. A photo from a recent announcement event can be accessed here.  

The 2020-2022 University of Louisville School of Medicine Trover Campus Biennial Report found that 102 Kentucky counties, either entirely or partially, are considered “health professional shortage areas.” Health care access researchers estimate more than 102,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky lack access to a primary care provider. 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. Staffing shortages, coupled with the state’s high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, reinforce the need to build a robust talent pipeline that will increase the number of health care professionals in the Commonwealth and generate lasting benefits to the state’s health care system.

“At Anthem, we are dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders in their journey to transform the health care landscape, ensuring the well-being of all communities across Kentucky, regardless of their location,” said Leon Lamoreaux, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky. “We are proud to work alongside the University of Louisville School of Medicine Trover Campus to improve lives and to ensure institutions on the front lines of health care education and training – especially in rural and underserved communities – remain equipped to educate and support a new generation of hometown health care heroes.”

In 1998, the University of Louisville partnered with the Trover Foundation to establish the regional rural Trover Campus. For the first 15 years, the campus stood as one of only two regional U.S. medical school clinical campuses in towns with populations under 150,000. Today, the Trover Campus holds the second position among 40 rural programs, as rated by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“The best way to get a doctor to a small town is to get a medical student from a small town and then train them in a small town,” said William J. Crump, associate dean of the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus, summarizing the philosophy behind the program.

State Representative Wade Williams (R-KY) and State Senator Robby Mills (R-KY) joined in lauding the Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship.

“I’m excited by this groundbreaking partnership between Anthem Medicaid and the University of Louisville,” said Senator Mills. “Our state is in desperate need of new health care heroes, and this is but one innovative solution to help my constituents get the care they deserve.”

“Between a devastating tornado and extreme flooding, the Commonwealth has been through so much recently,” said Representative Williams. “It warms my heart to know partners like Anthem Medicaid and the University of Louisville are finding ways to not only solve the shortage of health care professionals needed before, during and after trying times, but also empowering the next generation of hometown health care heroes.”

Three students were selected for this year’s Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship based on academic excellence and enrolled in the Rural Medicine Accelerated Track (RMAT). RMAT enables students to finish medical school in three years, reducing costs and time commitments for students planning to practice in rural areas of Kentucky.

The 2023 recipients of the UofL-Trover Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship are Caitlan Jones, Bradley Watson and Emily Amyx.

“RMAT has afforded me the opportunity to return home sooner and start giving back to the community where I first fell in love with medicine,” Amyx said. “I am so grateful to Anthem Medicaid for the scholarship, their support and their commitment to RMAT.”

“I come from a family of farmers and coal miners, with some of the most humble and kind parents. It’s only fitting that I end up in rural medicine, and scholarship programs like this and RMAT are helping me get there,” Jones said. 

This announcement builds on Anthem Medicaid’s recent partnerships with several other institutions, including Eastern Kentucky University, Hazard Community & Technical College, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University. Since 2021, Anthem Medicaid has awarded more than $500,000 to higher education institutions to expand rural health care access across the Commonwealth.

Anthem Medicaid currently serves more than 180,000 individuals in the Commonwealth, of which over 40% live in rural areas.

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