Two WVSOM Rural Health Initiative students receive scholarships

Two students in the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Rural Health Initiative (RHI) program received scholarships that will help offset the cost of in-state tuition.

Second-year students Kacy Harmon and Nick Yost each received $22,000 through the Rural Physician Scholarship Program because of their involvement in the RHI program and previous involvement in programs that prepare undergraduate students for medical school. WVSOM’s RHI was designed to enhance the rural/underserved primary care curriculum at WVSOM in order to produce graduates qualified to practice medicine in rural/underserved communities.  

“WVSOM RHI is pleased to offer the Rural Physician Scholarship Program to enable quality health professionals to practice in rural areas of our state,” said Rebecca Thacker, RHI program coordinator. “Both recipients of this year’s scholarship participated in RHI pre-med pipeline programming, have joined RHI and plan to practice in rural areas within West Virginia. Awarding this scholarship is an exciting step in RHI’s journey to improve health care in rural communities.”

Harmon participated in the Green Coat Program in which undergraduate students interested in medical school or a health care profession can gain exposure to clinical responsibilities in a hospital environment. WVSOM partners with Charleston Area Medical Center and Davis Medical Center to provide the Green Coat Program to students from four universities in West Virginia. Yost was involved in the Pre-Osteopathic Program as a student at Concord University. The program is currently offered at seven higher education institutions. Students in a pipeline program were eligible to apply for the RHI scholarship.

Yost said one of the perks of the Pre-Osteopathic Program was an early interview at WVSOM. He interviewed for and was accepted to medical school at the beginning of his senior year of college. Early acceptance to medical school helped ease his mind and gave him confidence that he was one step closer to his dream of being a physician who practices in his home state. The scholarship means that Yost’s tuition, for at least one year, is taken care of.

“Rural medicine isn’t always the most financially rewarding branch of medicine, but you still have the same amount of loans as students who choose not to be rural physicians. This really takes a burden off you and allows you to practice rurally without the weight of student loans,” he said.

Harmon said she participated in a pre-med program during college because she knew she wanted to become a physician in the state in which she’d spent her entire life.

“Medical school is expensive. Everyone knows it takes a long time to get to the end and how much money it takes to get there. Those numbers can sound really terrifying when you’re first starting, so knowing a student can have this chunk of tuition paid makes it seem doable. RHI does a good job of offering opportunities for students to receive scholarships and grant money,” she said.

Thacker said undergraduate pipeline programs help prepare potential students for the medical school process and provide them with valuable experience before they enter the classroom.

A goal of the Rural Health Initiative is to improve health care in rural communities. Harmon said she thinks the RHI program provides invaluable opportunities to youth and young adults interested in the medical profession.

“The program gives you unique opportunities and experiences that allow someone to be better oriented for rural health and to understand the communities they will be practicing in in the future,” she said.

As scholarship recipients, Harmon and Yost are required to practice in West Virginia for at least two years after they complete their residencies.

The Rural Health Initiative is a WVSOM program that is presented with financial assistance as a grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

Date Added: 
Thursday, September 12, 2019