PHOENIX — A one-of-a-kind scholarship is expanding at the University of Arizona and it is churning out more doctors, but there's a catch.
The UArizona Primary Care Physician Scholarship is a program that helps both medical students and those in need of healthcare. The scholarship offers free tuition but requires the student to serve 2-4 years working in a federally designated underserved community.
"Traditionally these types of populations do not go out and seek the medical needs when they need them," said Glen Fogarty, Ph.D., Dean of Admissions at the University of Arizona Medical School in Downtown Phoenix.
"I grew up in an underserved community myself. I know the healthcare disparities that exist," said Abigail Rocio Solorio, a medical student at UArizona and the first recipient of the PCP Scholarship in 2019, "I remember bringing up to my mom from a very young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is what I want to be when I grow [up]. I want to be a doctor."
Solorio, a graduate of North High School in Central Phoenix, has wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico City, never wavered in their support of her goals.
"It’s financially overwhelming, not just for you but for your family as well," said Solorio. "In the face of adversity, I found nothing but support."
UArizona is expanding the scholarship to include students specializing in general surgery.
"Medicine really is a career of service," said Annapurna Chitnavis, another med student who has received the PCP Scholarship. "So I think keeping that at the center is really important."
"If we can really be a reflection of the community and the class we bring in, then we know they are going to go back and serve those populations correctly," said Fogarty.
The next batch of recipients of the scholarship will be announced Thursday.