Thirty-three medical students attending the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) are set to receive scholarships to support their educational journeys.
The scholarships are made possible thanks to a $1.6 million anonymous gift to the Southwest Foundation for Osteopathic Education and Research (SWFOER).
“This private foundation strongly supports the mission and vision of BCOM and SWFOER — to bring more doctors to New Mexico and the Southwest region of the U.S.,” says Victoria Pineda, director of institutional advancement at BCOM. “We are so excited to have them support these aspiring physicians. And it’s not just an investment in our students, it’s an investment in the health and future of New Mexico.”
The gift will establish a new scholarship program at BCOM that will support 14 students with $100,000 over the course of their four years in medical school.
An additional 19 students will receive one-time scholarships of $10,000.
All students who are awarded scholarships must agree to complete a clinical rotation — hands-on medical training — at BCOM’s Southeastern New Mexico hub, which includes the cities of Artesia, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Lovington and Roswell.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, each of these cities are located in counties that are critically low on health professionals.
The rural training experience is expected to inspire BCOM students to one day work in regions of the U.S. where there are little to no doctors.
In addition, BCOM students who receive scholarships totaling $100,000 must agree to return to New Mexico after their residency training. If a career opportunity is available, he or she will practice as a physician for four years in one of the following regions in New Mexico: Artesia, Eddy County, Chavez County, Lea County, or Las Cruces.
“A program like this guarantees to bring doctors back to our region,” says Don Peska, DO, BCOM’s dean and chief academic officer. “This gift is going to make an extraordinary impact on New Mexico, bringing physicians back to New Mexico communities that truly need their help and expertise.”
John Hummer, president of BCOM, adds, “We are humbled and extremely grateful to have this donor — a renowned business leader and philanthropist who has done so much good for New Mexico — supporting our medical students and joining us on our mission to increase the number of future New Mexico physicians.”
The first cohort of scholars will be selected this summer, prior to the start of the 2019-20 academic school year. Scholarships will be awarded based on academic achievement, community service, personal integrity and character.
Students will be able to apply the funds towards tuition, books, room and board and other educational expenses.
The gift was secured by the Southwest Foundation for Osteopathic Education and Research (SWFOER). SWFOER is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Its charter and mission is to provide financial support to BCOM students, as well as to support medical and academic research initiatives.