Health care needs in rural areas addressed with physicians schol - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Health care needs in rural areas addressed with physicians scholarship program

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) -

This is a news release from Magnolia Health

Magnolia Health - a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation - has committed to funding a four-year, $120,000 scholarship with the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program (MRPSP), which aids medical students who are passionate about delivering primary care to underserved patients across the state.

The Magnolia Health scholarship was awarded to Elizabeth Fike in 2014 at $30,000 annually through 2018. Fike is a graduate of Delta State University and a Raymond, Miss. native, and will use the scholarship for her medical training at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The MRPSP was launched in 2007 through state funding and contributions from private organizations. Each scholarship contributes $120,000 per student for medical school training, and the MRPSP provides $1.5 million in scholarships each year.

"As we explore innovative ways to provide better health across the state, it is imperative to focus our resources on strengthening rural health care to counties outside our major metropolitan areas, where the neediest patients live," said Dr. Jason B. Dees, president and CEO of Magnolia Health. "We must fortify the next generation of rural physicians with the education and training they need to change lives, and we are excited to award this scholarship to Elizabeth, who will do just that."

During medical school, each MRPSP scholar receives $30,000 per year based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of MRPSP translated to 50 medical students receiving a total of $1.5 million to support their education last year. In addition to the legislative support, four privately funded scholarships are awarded to medical students. Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support.

"We applaud the commitment from Magnolia Health to our future physicians, and its dedication to improving health care across Mississippi," said Wahnee Sherman, executive director of MRPSP. "The program is a long-term promise to health care and economic development in Mississippi."

The impact of MRPSP goes further than just providing health care to underserved areas - it's about being an active member of their communities and playing a role in making that community a better place to live, Sherman said.

Upon completion of medical training, MRPSP scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The MRPSP scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 20,000 or fewer population located more than

20 miles from a medically served area.

MRPSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school and to earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

About Magnolia Health

Magnolia Health is a long-term solution to help the state of Mississippi enhance care for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients, while most effectively managing taxpayer dollars. A physician-driven, Mississippi-based Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), Magnolia is backed by its parent company, Centene Corporation (Centene). Centene has more than 30 years of experience in Medicaid, CHIP and other government-funded programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and long-term care. For more information about Magnolia, visit www.magnoliahealthplan.com.

About the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program are state-funded efforts to increase the number of physicians and dentists serving the health-care needs of Mississippians in rural areas. Housed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and collaborating with its schools of medicine and dentistry and the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, the programs use various outreach, mentoring and training methods to identify, support, educate and deploy new generations of health-care workers for Mississippi's underserved populations. To learn more about either program, visit www.umc.edu/mrpsp

Copyright 2015 WDAM.  All rights reserved.

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