Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Medicaid managed-care firm WellCare funds scholarships to train more doctors, psychiatrists and advanced-practice nurses in E.Ky.

WellCare of Kentucky is providing $180,000 for two new University of Kentucky scholarship programs aimed at increasing the number of primary-care and psychiatric doctors and advanced-practice registered nurses in Eastern Kentucky.

WellCare, a Medicaid managed-care company, made the announcement May 22 at the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard.   

“We know that access to doctors, nurses and other health care providers directly affects health outcomes,” said Bill Jones, president of WellCare of Kentucky. “When health care is in short supply or located far away, people are less likely to get routine screenings, tests and vaccinations. . . .  Anything we can do to encourage more providers to locate in underserved areas will be a direct benefit to the health of our state.”

Dr. Kevin Pearce, the UK College of Medicine associate dean for rural and community health, said the scholarships would go to students interested in caring for medically under-served Kentuckians. “Kentucky has significant physician shortages, especially in our rural communities, and these scholarships will be helpful in mitigating our physician shortages,” he said.

The WellCare Physicians for the Commonwealth program is partnering with the medical school to provide 20 one-year scholarships worth $5,000 to incoming medical students in the UK Rural Physicians Leadership Program, which provides two years of clinical experience with rural, under-served Kentucky populations, according to a UK news release.

These scholarships will support medical students in the program in Morehead or the new Bowling Green campus, scheduled to open in 2018.

For more information or to apply, contact Julie McDaniel at julie.mcdaniel@uky.edu.

WellCare is also partnering with the UK College of Nursing to provide $80,000 for 10 scholarships for students in its Doctorate in Nursing Practice program who plan on practicing in primary medicine or behavioral health in rural Kentucky.

Interested students should contact Dr. Sheila Melander at sheila.melander@uky.edu.

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