Four medical students at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) have been awarded scholarships from the Primary Care Initiative — the first students to receive assistance from the foundation’s fundraising efforts.
The Primary Care Initiative, a non-profit foundation that launched in August 2022, was established in partnership with the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and Blue Cross of Idaho. The PCI aims to encourage new doctors to practice in rural and medically-underserved areas of Idaho through scholarships and medical education debt repayments.
Through PCI’s fundraising efforts, the foundation awarded scholarships to Heidi Dreher, OMS-IV; Bakir Dananovic, OMS-IV; Katelan Saunders, OMS-IV; and Bridger West, OMS-IV. These four students are currently in their fourth year of study at ICOM and will graduate in May of 2023. They have an interest in practicing medicine in a primary care specialty.
“The Primary Care Initiative helps both rural communities and future doctors who often leave medical school with crushing debt by funding scholarships for student doctors planning to go into primary care,” said Tammy Perkins, Executive Director of PCI. “We know with the pace of population growth in Idaho, critical concerns with the number of physicians and other primary care providers have not gotten any better. We need action to ensure Idahoans have access to the health care they need.”
Idaho and its rural communities face a chronic shortage of physicians. In fact, the Gem State ranks 45th in the nation for the number of primary care physicians per capita, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2021 State Physician Workforce Data Report.
Both the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and Blue Cross of Idaho have contributed significant seed money to launch the Primary Care Initiative, and the foundation aims to raise $25 million over the next five years in support of its mission.