The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society will continue investing in medical education at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine Greenville over the next ten years through a grant that will provide scholarships to underrepresented students in medicine.
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 underrepresented students in medicine. The program will ultimately support 21 students throughout their four years.
The UofSC School of Medicine Greenville is on a strategic mission to increase diversity of the student body and welcomed its most diverse student population this year, with 24 percent of underrepresented students in medicine within the 2020 accepted class and a projected 26 percent for the 2021 class.
“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.”
The Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD scholarship lays the groundwork for future physicians and the communities that they plan to serve. Patients are 19 to 26 times more likely to seek care from a physician who looks like them and has similar life experiences, which is why training and retaining diverse primary care doctors is vital.
Students who receive scholarships agree to practice medicine in the state for four years upon graduation, thereby investing in the healthcare of South Carolinians.
“The Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society is a business resource that focuses on mentorship, sponsorship and engaging the community,” says Dr. Frank Clark, president of the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society, clinical assistant professor at UofSC School of Medicine Greenville and medical director & division chief for Adult Inpatient & consultation-liaison services at Prisma Health−Upstate . “It’s vitally important, as we serve our communities, that we have a diverse physician workforce.”
“One of the biggest worries of medical school is finances, tuition and living expenses”, says Dillon Isaac, a UofSC 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 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 action of the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society, whose mission is to engage in mentorship and sponsorship of underrepresented minorities in medicine.
About UofSC School of Medicine Greenville
Through a synergistic partnership between the state’s largest university and the state’s largest public health system, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, opened the doors in 2012 to welcome its charter class. The educational experience offered at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville is unique as students are immersed in the healthcare delivery system from their first week and are taught by experienced biomedical educators and clinical faculty from Prisma Health using a state-of-the-art integrated curriculum. University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville’s goal is to educate master clinicians imbued with medical knowledge, committed to care of the total patient, competent in technical skills and cognizant of population health principles. More information about the University of South Carolina School of Medicine can be found here.
About the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society
A business resource group that focuses on engaging with underrepresented minority communities, the mission of Prisma Health’s Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society is to collaborate with individuals and institutions to facilitate the success of healthcare educators, administrators and providers. The society actively works to improve and promote compassionate, innovative and quality-filled care provided to minority communities. Other goals of the mentoring program include supporting students throughout their medical school experience, retaining students in medical school, and increasing recruitment efforts to supply communities with the best and brightest future doctors. More information about the Levi S. Kirkland, Sr., MD Society can be found here.
About BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation
Headquartered in Columbia, the foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Its mission is to promote and support healthier South Carolinians, particularly the economically vulnerable, by supporting solutions to address gaps in health care and serving as an agent of change to support innovation and value-added public-private partnerships. The foundation website can be found at www.bcbsscfoundation.org.