Press Release

Primary Care Physician Assistant Program receives $3.25 million for scholarships to diversify profession and care for underserved communities

July 06, 2020

The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC has been awarded $3.25 million to support scholarships for disadvantaged students in a continuation of growing diversity within the physician assistant profession and bringing quality health care to underserved communities.

“The PA Program emphasizes the importance of preparing excellent primary care providers who can work in medically underserved communities,” said Chloe Powell, DMSc, MSPA, PA-C, clinical instructor of family medicine and the primary investigator on the grant. “I am thrilled to widen the door for more quality students to pursue this dream and give back to our communities.”

While disadvantaged students are often deterred from medical professions based on the high cost of higher education, these scholarships will lower that burden for students entering the PA program, so that they can have the quality-education and pursue a career in primary care, which is desperately needed in underserved communities.

Expanding on a previous grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the PA Program will focus on five objectives that lead to a more inclusive profession that can provide quality health care for all patients. First is “recruit,” which seeks to increase the number of disadvantaged students entering the program and profession. Second is “retain,” which is intended to help students stay in the program by supporting their educational efforts during their time in school. Third is “reduce,” aimed to lower student debt overall. The fourth is “return” focused on encouraging these scholarship recipients to practice primary care medicine in medically underserved communities. New to the grant is a fifth objective, “ready,” that is focused on preparing graduates to combat the opioid crisis, improve mental health, and transform how providers care for the unsheltered living on the streets in Los Angeles.

Twenty scholarships in the amount of $32,500 will be awarded annually to students who qualify as educationally, environmentally, or economically disadvantaged.

“Many students struggle to fund their education and pursue a career working in primary care because of the high cost of their education,” shared the Director of Admissions at the PA Program and a co-author of the grant Sara Diosdado-Ortiz, MBA. “We are so excited to offer a scholarship to students to breakdown some of their financial barriers to returning to underserved communities well-prepared to practice primary care for those who truly need it.”