BCBS provides funding for West Alabama student scholarships

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is proud to expand its medical scholarship program to further address health disparities, particularly in rural and underserved areas of our state. Blue Cross started its medical scholarship program in 2016 which has been renewed and expanded for 2024. These scholarships serve to improve access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Alabamians.

For 2024,West Alabama Community College in Livingston has received funding for scholarships.

To date, 145 students have been awarded Blue Cross scholarships and 29 have graduated and are now practicing in rural areas across Alabama. In addition to renewing the $11 million in scholarship funding provided since 2016, Blue Cross has committed an additional $13 million towards medical scholarships.

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“Blue Cross is working to emphasize improvement in areas that are currently underrepresented,” said Dr. Darrel Weaver, Vice President of Provider Engagement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “It is often the cost of medical school and education which prevents people from choosing careers in the medical industry. Scholarships enable more people to choose a career in medicine, and this is good news for rural Alabama and other underserved areas.”

In addition to renewing and expanding existing scholarships, Blue Cross is also using scholarships to fight several ongoing crises across the state.

Blue Cross is now providing scholarships to Certified Nurse Midwives and Family Medicine Obstetrics to support a larger Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association goal of reducing maternal health disparities by 50% within five years. Certified Nurse Midwives are medical practitioners educated in graduate programs accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) to provide comprehensive care for maternity patients. Family Medicine Obstetrics are medical doctors who practice Family Medicine that receive additional medical training through a fellowship program where they receive in-depth education in obstetric care so they can fully practice obstetrics for their patients, including operative obstetrics.

A condition for most of these scholarships requires recipients practice in underserved areas of Alabama after graduation for a period of three years. This investment ensures many Alabamians will have access to the quality healthcare they need, giving them peace of mind and resulting in better health outcomes

The unfortunate news is many in Alabama currently lack adequate access to healthcare. The good news is these scholarships are making a real impact. According to Dr. Weaver, “It’s good to know we have professionals practicing today in parts of Alabama who really needed the additional care. Those successes are a result of these scholarships.” About the year ahead, he says, “We’ll continue our focus on primary care, but we’ll also place extra emphasis on maternal and behavioral health as well as addressing shortages in dentistry and nursing.”