2018 U of A BLAISER students at SEAHEC June, 20-22

Recruiting health care providers to serve in rural Arizona should soon get easier. In May 2019, the State of Arizona passed an $8 million initiative to support the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix. A portion of that funding is expected to provide scholarships for up to 100 “students who commit to practice primary care or another designated critical-access specialty in rural or urban underserved communities in Arizona,” according to the university’s website.

Arizona ranks 44th (of all 50 states) in active Primary Care Physicians per capita, over a quarter of whom are planning to retire in the next five years. Currently, Arizona is only meeting about 40% of its need for providers. In rural areas, the need is greater. For example, 98% of Cochise County is rated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), according to the Arizona Center for Rural Health. Arizona needs to add 853 active practitioners statewide to its roles to remove the HPSA designation. By 2030, that number will climb to 1,900.

As the cost of education rises, student debt has become a major obstacle to attracting young health care providers to rural communities. The University of Arizona Primary Care Physician Scholarship Program is designed to remove barriers to healthcare access by providing free tuition for full time UA College of Medicine students. Applicants must be Arizona residents and must agree to practice primary care in a federally designated underserved community in Arizona for at least two years after completing their residency, according to the university.

Applications are open for the 2020 spring semester at both the College of Medicine – Tucson and College of Medicine – Phoenix.

Students can apply for the scholarship through their university’s financial aid departments.

Tucson Campus: https://financial-aid.medicine.arizona.edu/pcp-scholarship

Phoenix Campus: https://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/pcp-scholarship