July 2, 2018Five University of Alabama School of Medicine students completing their clinical education at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus are recipients of the new BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama Primary Care Scholarships. The students are: Tanner Hallman, Savannah Johnson, Joshua Price, Grace Spears and Hannah Zahedi. Students selected for the scholarship have indicated their intent to pursue primary care residency training after medical school and then to practice in a medically underserved Alabama county. The hope is they will remain in those counties after their commitment. Most Alabama counties don’t have enough primary care physicians to meet the needs of their residents. Sixty-two of Alabama’s 67 counties are considered as having a primary care shortage based on the federal definition of Health Professional Shortage Areas. BlueCross provided $3.6 million to the School of Medicine for the Primary Care Scholarships to train a total of 60 primary care physicians over five years. After residency, the physicians agree to practice for three years in a county with a primary care shortage. The scholarship pays the tuition of 12 third- and fourth-year medical students each year. “The support provided by BlueCross in helping students interested in primary care careers, by lowering their medical school debt with these scholarships, is very important to the state and underserved communities, as well as to these future physicians,” says Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, which also serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The College’s mission is to improve the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region by increasing the primary care physician workforce.