Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin: Awards three medical diversity scholorships to local students

MADISON, WISCONSINOctober 18, 2022 – In an effort to improve experience and health outcomes among patients of diverse backgrounds, GHC-SCW is proud to announce it has awarded the 2022 GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship to three local college students. This is the first year of the scholarship program.

The three winners are:

  • Ahmed Ibrahim (UW-Madison graduate planning to go to medical school)
  • Duncan Asaka (doctoral-level degree for nursing professionals at UW-Madison)
  • Salma Salama (doctoral-level degree for nursing professionals at UW-Madison)

The scholarship recipients will be recognized at a luncheon. Media are welcome to attend.

2022 GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship Luncheon

Thursday, October 20

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

GHC-SCW Capitol Clinic

675 W Washington Ave, Madison

As part of GHC-SCW’s larger effort to reduce inequities in healthcare, the goal of the GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship is to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities through recruitment of healthcare professionals with diverse backgrounds, which includes offering financial and mentorship opportunities to medical pre-professionals of color. In addition to each recipient receiving a $5,000 scholarship, the students will also have an on-site shadowing experience at GHC-SCW.

“To provide the best care to our communities, healthcare systems need to invest in diversifying their providers and care teams,” said Kingsley Gobourne, GHC-SCW Chief Equity and Engagement Officer. “That investment starts upstream with ensuring more diverse candidates can navigate the financial barriers in their path. Our scholarship will by no means erase those barriers, however, we hope to add to the pool of resources available to make that journey attainable.”

In 2021, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared racism is a serious public health problem that has a negative health impact on communities of color, contributing to a disproportionate mortality rate. The CDC reports the average life expectancy among Black or African American people in the United States is four years lower than that of White people.

“It is crucial for our time that the diversity of health care professionals reflect the diversity of the patients they care for and the diversity of the profession we stand for,” said Salma Salama, GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship recipient. “I am so thankful for organizations like GHC that recognize this issue and choose to act by creating opportunities for students like me. I greatly look forward to being a role model for minority children, students and professionals alike.”

“From working in a hospital and listening to patients’ stories, I’ve learned that most patients (unsurprisingly) prefer seeing providers that reflect the spectrum of identities that make up their communities, including race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and disability status,” said Ahmed Ibrahim, GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship recipient. “Witnessing people who look like me suffer from a system sworn to protect them inspired me to pursue a career in medicine.”

“Promoting diversity in healthcare can lead to cultural competency and healthcare providers’ ability to offer services that meet their patients’ unique social, cultural and linguistic needs,” said Duncan Asaka, GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship recipient. “In short, the better a patient is represented and understood, the better they can be treated. Diversity in healthcare will ensure that elements such as background beliefs, ethnicities and varying perspectives are represented in the medical field.”

GHC-SCW believes a commitment to encouraging individuals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) to become healthcare providers will help break down barriers and improve health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups.

“Diversity in medicine has tangible benefits that positively impact patient care,” said Laureine Lacossiere, GHC-SCW Physician Recruiter. “While Wisconsin has some troubling health disparities that increasingly fall along racial lines, we’re taking small steps in the right direction to increase representation in our future providers and change the health outcomes for our wider community.”

The 2022 GHC-SCW Pre-Professional Medical Diversity Scholarship was open to students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or Hispanic/Latinx who are currently enrolled in medical school (including residency) or physician assistant, and nurse practitioner programs in Wisconsin. Students submitted essays related to the importance of diverse healthcare providers in diverse communities.

“Wisconsin needs more primary care providers from diverse communities,” said Alison Craig, MD, GHC-SCW Senior Medical Director. “Supporting a path to primary care careers builds a better tomorrow for our state. I am fully convinced that Wisconsin will be healthier as these talented, compassionate scholars put on their stethoscopes and care for patients in the years ahead.”