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School of Medicine Greenville

BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation awards 10-year grant to assist minority students pursuing medicine

Training and retaining underrepresented primary care doctors is vital, especially when considering minority patients are 19 to 26 times more likely to seek care from a physician who looks like them or has similar life experiences.
The University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine Greenville is doing its part to help create a more diverse primary care doctor population. This year, the School of Medicine Greenville welcomed its most diverse student population, with 24 percent of students coming from demographics underrepresented in medicine.
This was in part due to scholarships for underrepresented students in medicine provided by donors such as BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, and the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society. The two organizations will continue investing in high-quality medical education and training at the School of Medicine Greenville over the next ten years through a grant that will provide scholarships to underrepresented students in medicine.
“It’s vitally important, as we serve our communities, that we have a diverse physician workforce,” says Dr. Frank Clark. Clark is a clinical assistant professor at UofSC School of Medicine Greenville and president of the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society. Clark also is the medical director and division chief for adult inpatient and consultation-liaison services at Prisma Health−Upstate.
Each student awardee will receive full tuition at $45,000 per year throughout their four years in medical school. The 10-year duration of the grant is the longest in the Foundation’s history, the goal of which is to support and uplift underrepresented students in medicine. The program will ultimately support 21 students throughout their four years.
“One of the biggest worries of medical school is finances, tuition and living expenses,” says Dillon Isaac, a School of Medicine Greenville student and past scholarship recipient.
“Because of this scholarship, all of my efforts can go into studying medicine, addressing healthcare 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 that 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.”
The scholarship was named after the late Dr. Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., who was the first African American surgeon to practice in the Greenville Health System, now known as Prisma Health, in 1961. Kirkland’s legacy continues to lead the way for African American physicians through the actions of the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society, whose mission is to engage in mentorship and sponsorship of underrepresented students in medicine.
Students who receive the scholarship agree to practice medicine in the state for four years upon graduation, thereby investing in the South Carolina community by addressing disparities such as lack of primary care physicians compounded with the lack of diversity in the field.
“We are thrilled at the opportunities that this grant will provide for our students,” says Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, dean of the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville and chief academic officer at Prisma Health-Upstate. “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.”

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