By self-description, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare are committed to changing the complexion of the physician workforce in the Mid-South. One of the first steps toward accomplishing that goal has translated into $10,000 scholarships for each of five African-American, UTHSC medical students.
Started this fall, the Dr. Ed Reed Scholarship Fund is named in special memory of the late Ed Reed, MD, who passed away at the age of 92 earlier this year.
Gary Shorb, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and David M. Stern, MD, executive dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine, recently met with four of the UTHSC African-American medical students to recognize them as the first recipients of the Dr. Ed Reed Scholarship Fund at the UTHSC College of Medicine. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has committed $250,000 to the scholarship fund over the next five years.
"Attracting qualified minority students to our medical school is critical to the mission of our College of Medicine. Only by having the complexion of the physician workforce match that of the community we serve will it be possible to ameliorate health disparities in Memphis," said Dr. Stern.
"Having scholarships to assist these students with the financial stress associated with the long duration of training through undergraduate school and then medical school is essential. We are very grateful to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and Gary Shorb for doing this for our students. The quality of these wonderful students speaks for itself," he stated.
Dr. Reed was the first African-American general surgeon to establish practice in Memphis, blazing a trail for the integration of the surgical staffs of the Memphis hospitals in the 1960s. A former UTHSC faculty member, Dr. Reed was the first African-American president of the Memphis chapter of the American Cancer Society. He once served as chairman of the board for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis and practiced medicine in Memphis for nearly 50 years.
"We want to continue to expand the base of African-American talent enrolling in medical schools," Shorb told the awardees. "We know funding is a big consideration for highly sought after medical students. What else can we do to attract more medical school candidates like you and improve the recruitment pipeline?"
Native Memphian Keadrea Wilson, a third-year UTHSC medical student, said mentoring and reaching out to children at a young age is a good start.
"People like us who are the first in our families to choose to be doctors have to be visible to younger people, so they can ask questions and hear about why and how we chose this path," said Wilson. "Mentoring as young as elementary school, but definitely high school, is a great way to start recruiting more talented African-Americans."
With an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, Wilson has a passion for improving the community through health screening and literacy. Her anticipated graduation date is 2015 and she is interested in neonatology as her area of specialty.
"Growing up in the Raleigh-Frayser area, I could see the gangs, drugs and sickness in my community," sid Petrina Craine, third-year UTHSC medical student. "Early on, my mother instilled a love for reading in me and that early love, combined with the fact that I come from a family of teachers where education is valued, kept me on the right path."
Craine added, "One of the things I really like about this school is that it is visible. It's connected to minorities and to the community. But when I was growing up, I didn't even know there was a medical school right here in Memphis. So much needs to be done earlier on, going out into the schools. Medical students never really have a lot of time for extracurricular activities but when we're passionate about something, we make time."
With an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Craine expects to graduate from the UTHSC College of Medicine in 2015. While undecided about her area of specialty, she is looking into critical care medicine.
The other three recipients of the Ed Reed scholarships are fourth-year UTHSC medical students who are on track to graduate in 2014.
• Megan Delores Ward is a Nashville native who holds her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University. Current vice president of the internal medicine student interest group, she is looking toward internal medicine as her area of specialty.
• Andrew Stephen Poole, another Nashville native, earned his undergraduate credentials at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has worked with handicapped children through an orthopaedic clinic and plans to specialize in orthopaedic surgery.
• Bryauna Schunece Lewis of West Memphis, Ark., is working on an ongoing project through the UTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She plans to specialize in pediatrics.
For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.