At U.S. medical schools, physicians-in-training are battling the realities of rising tuition and staggering student loan debt. But some relief is in sight at Oregon’s only medical school, at Oregon Health & Science University. OHSU’s prescription: a new $5 million scholarship fund that will provide financial support to medical students. The scholarship fund was announced today by OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. at a meeting of the OHSU Board of Directors.
Established by an anonymous OHSU supporter concerned about the effects of student loan indebtedness on Oregon’s already-challenged physician workforce, the endowed scholarship fund is designed to support “high-impact” medical students – that is, those who have the greatest potential and probability of contributing to Oregon’s future in a variety of ways: as health care providers, mentors and community leaders.
“We view this as an unprecedented opportunity to support students who have unique skills, life experiences or talents that would enrich OHSU’s student body and Oregon’s physician workforce in important ways,” said Mark Richardson, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. “This investment makes medical school a possibility for more people who have the diverse backgrounds and unique personal qualities to make great Oregon doctors,” he said, citing an interest in, for example, applicants with nontraditional pre-medical or career backgrounds, older students, veterans or people with other unique life experiences that reveal potential to succeed in medicine. “We are looking for leaders who can make an impact in health care and beyond.”
Richardson said he expects to award the first scholarships for the students enrolling in the 2011-2012 academic year, although OHSU has not yet finalized the full details of the program or the number of available scholarships. To support as many students as possible, he said, the maximum award will be limited to 50 percent of the cost of in-state tuition and fees.
“This generous supporter has stepped up to the plate for all Oregonians,” said Robertson. “As tuition climbs ever upward, we must work hard to prevent financial considerations from reducing the quality of our student body and Oregon’s future physician workforce. These scholarships will target students who will strengthen our medical school, our state and our communities. This will allow us to keep Oregon’s most important natural resource, our students, in Oregon – and to bring others into our state.”
OHSU Foundation President Allan Price said that the gift reflects the donor’s deep understanding of OHSU’s vital role in educating Oregon’s healthcare workforce. “This supporter believes that supporting tomorrow’s doctors will make a powerful, sustainable contribution to the health and well being of our state and its citizens while reducing the indebtedness our graduates carry with them into medical practice. We are deeply grateful for this generous investment,” he said.
Price said the gift is emblematic of a broad showing of community support for scholarships as the OHSU Foundation has emphasized their power in recruiting and retaining top students. “With this gift, the total of new gifts and commitments to scholarship through the foundation is more than $14.2 million this year alone. Clearly more and more Oregonians are recognizing the value of partnering with OHSU to invest in our future healthcare workforce.”
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU includes two teaching hospitals; highly ranked schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry; more than 200 health and education outreach programs; and a nationally acclaimed research community comprising dozens of centers and institutes focused on basic, clinical and translational science in the search for new paradigms in the treatment of disease.
The OHSU Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) organization that exists to secure private philanthropic support for Oregon Health & Science University. The foundation raises funds from individuals, companies, foundations and organizations, and invests and manages gifts in accordance with donors’ wishes.