A new four-year scholarship program established by the Partnership Education and Research Committee supports the enrollment and retention of racially and ethnically diverse medical students at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). The scholarship will support African American, Latin American, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian students, who have been historically underrepresented in medicine. Funds will be provided to two or more medical students matriculating at the SMPH for up to $40,000 per year.

“Assuring a diverse physician workforce is a necessary component of the mission of the SMPH to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin through service, scholarship, science and social responsibility,” said Jonathan Temte, MD, PhD, MS, associate dean for public health and community engagement and principal investigator of this initiative.

Dr. Temte is working with the Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP), the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the SMPH Office of Admissions to identify UW SMPH students from diverse backgrounds, who have financial needs, as potential scholarship recipients. The first two scholarship have been awarded to recipients who identify as Native American and participated in an SMPH pipeline program.

A recent study published in the Journal of the National Medical Association concluded that increasing physician diversity in all specialties is essential to improving healthcare for underserved communities. In addition, students from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds who become providers may be more likely to practice in underserved areas, and some evidence suggests that racial and ethnic concordance between patients and providers can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. With this scholarship, the Wisconsin Partnership Program and the UW SMPH are working to create and sustain a physician workforce that reflects and keeps pace with Wisconsin’s diverse population, and ultimately improves health outcomes for all Wisconsinites.