TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences recently welcomed the 2021-2022 class of its Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars programs for students studying to become rural physicians or considering other health careers.
The Rural Medical Scholars Program is for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The program includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, and leads to a master’s degree in rural community health and early admission to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.
The 2021-2022 class of Rural Medical Scholars includes Megan Baggett, of Grove Hill; Colton Clayton, of Locust Fork; Phillip Hensley, of Verbena; Belle LouAllen, of Moulton; Emma Anne McKinley, of Sheffield; John Robert Moon, of Centre; Blaine Newman, of Helena; Venu Reddy, of Lanett; Timberly Washington, of Demopolis; and Tameron Williams, of Pell City.
The program is a highly selective, pre-medicine and medical education program of UA, the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, which also serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine in the education of medical students.
After an initial year of study, scholars spend their first two years of medical school at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and return to CCHS for their third and fourth years of medical school – the clinical education and training years.
Founded in 1996, the Rural Medical Scholars Program to date has placed 78 physicians into practice in rural Alabama and has been cited nationally as a model initiative.
The Rural Community Health Scholars Program is for rural Alabama graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program but who are interested in health care careers. Students take graduate-level courses; participate in farm field trips; shadow rural physicians; assist with health fairs and screenings or other community service projects; and attend lectures and workshops focused on rural health topics. Additionally, scholars participate in peer support group activities and receive mentorship from rural health practitioners.
The 2021-2022 class of Rural Community Health Scholars includes Rolonda Burks, of Greensboro; Cayla Gilliland, of Cottondale; and Ben Schwartz, of Moundville.
Graduates of the program, who earn a master’s degree in rural community health, have entered the fields of nursing, physical therapy, public health and health care administration.
The Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars programs are part of the college’s efforts to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama, particularly in rural communities.
“Alabama is a disproportionately rural state, and medical education programs that develop rural physicians and other health care professionals are vital,” said Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS.
2021-2022 Rural Medical Scholars
2021-2022 Rural Community Health Scholars
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.