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BlueCross BlueShield gifts $3.7M grant to minority medical students

Courtesy of GSA Business Report

Minority medical students will have a chance to take advantage of a $45,000 annual scholarship at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville for the next 10 years thanks to a recent grant from The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society.

The total $3.7 million Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. grant will ultimately support 21 students during four years of study at the school with the intention of boosting numbers of underrepresented populations in the field. Patients are 19 to 26 times more likely to seek care from a physician who looks like them and has similar life experiences, according to the news release.

“The Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society is a business resource that focuses on mentorship, sponsorship and engaging the community,” Dr. Frank Clark, president of the Levi S. Kirkland Sr., M.D. Society, said in the news release. Clark is clinical assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and medical director and division chief for adult inpatient and consultation-liaison services at Prisma Health−Upstate. “It’s vitally important, as we serve our communities, that we have a diverse physician workforce.”

The 10-year grant, named after the first Black physician to work in the Greenville Health System, now known as Prisma Health, is the longest-running grant in the foundation’s history and was gifted after the University of South Carolina School of Medicine accepted its most diverse student population yet with a 24% minority cohort, the release said.

The school projects that number to rise to 26% for the 2021 class, according to the release.

“We are thrilled at the opportunities that this grant will provide for our students,” Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, school dean and chief academic officer at Prisma Health−Upstate, said in the release. “This generous grant from the foundation is an important investment in our students and a testament to the excellent medical education we provide to future physicians for the Upstate and across South Carolina.”

Students who receive the scholarship must agree to practice medicine in the Palmetto State for four years.

“One of the biggest worries of medical school is finances, tuition and living expenses,” Dillon Isaac, a medical student at the school and past scholarship recipient, said in the release. “Because of this scholarship, all of my efforts can go into studying medicine, addressing health care disparities, and looking into social determinants of health. Altogether, this will help me give my overall best toward patient care and give back to the community that raised me. With that, I’m extremely excited to share I’ll be continuing my medical training as an internal medicine-pediatrics resident in the Upstate. I’m so excited to follow in the footsteps of the physicians that continuously support and inspire me.”