University of Pikeville, Anthem Medicaid launch Dental Rural Medicine Scholarship  

By Lilli Dubler, Building Kentucky

Photo courtesy of University of Pikeville

University of Pikeville (UPIKE) and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky (Anthem) celebrated the launch of the Anthem Dental Rural Medicine Scholarship at UPIKE’s Tanner College of Dental Medicine today.  

The new endowed scholarship will provide crucial financial support to dental students committed to practicing in rural communities in eastern Kentucky. The investment aims to develop a skilled workforce of hometown health heroes to enhance dental care and improve health outcomes in underserved areas where there is a critical need.  

“We are profoundly grateful for Anthem’s partnership, which supports the mission of our Tanner College of Dental Medicine to educate future dentists dedicated to expanding access to oral health care in rural and underserved areas,” said Burton Webb, Ph.D., University of Pikeville President. “Addressing systemic challenges, like improving dental access, requires vision and collaborations with like-minded community partners. The Anthem Dental Rural Medicine scholarship is a prime example of these principles in action. By coming together, we’re addressing the immediate financial needs of our students while also establishing long-term solutions with the potential to significantly transform the health of our communities.” 

Kentucky continues to face a critical shortage of health care professionals, particularly in rural areas. According to the Kentucky Hospital Association’s 2022 Workforce Survey Report, Kentucky hospitals reported more than 13,000 vacancies across multiple professional groups in 2021. Additionally, a recent study found that Kentucky ranks 43rd in the country for dental health and 49th in adult dental visits per year. This scholarship is designed to address these disparities by supporting a new generation of health care leaders, particularly where dental health disparities are most acute.  

“Anthem is committed to closing the gap in health disparities and supporting Kentucky’s workforce through innovative solutions that reinvent health care across the state,” said Leon Lamoreaux, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky. “Partnering with UPIKE will provide critical support to some of Kentucky’s brightest future dental leaders. Our investment in these students is a long-term commitment to enhancing dental and health outcomes in underserved areas of eastern Kentucky for years to come.” 

State Senator Phillip Wheeler (R-KY) joined in celebrating the impact of the scholarship in the region.   

“This scholarship marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to build a healthier future for eastern Kentucky,” said Sen. Wheeler. “The partnership between UPIKE and Anthem is creating pathways for better health care outcomes in our rural communities. I’m proud to support such a transformative program and the promise it holds to enrich the lives of our neighbors throughout the region.” 

This announcement builds on Anthem Medicaid broader efforts to improving rural health outcomes across the Commonwealth, which includes existing partnerships with several other notable institutions across the state, including Eastern Kentucky University, Hazard Community & Technical College, Murray State University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. Since 2021, Anthem Medicaid has awarded nearly $1 million to expand education and access to rural health care across the Commonwealth. 

Anthem Medicaid currently serves more than 160,000 individuals in the Commonwealth, of which over 40% live in rural areas. 

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