A $10 million endowment will provide much needed scholarships to students in the joint OU-TU medical program.
The money could affect Oklahoma's serious shortage of primary care physicians. Oklahoma is ranked 49th nationwide when it comes to access to family doctors.
University representatives say one major cause of the shortage is the cost of medical school.
Being a doctor isn't something you just do. There's a lot of time, studying, practice and money that goes into it. With such a major course load, the financing of such a career path can be an even bigger challenge.
“We have students who come to us already with significant undergraduate debt, and then you add on top of the medical school debt, it's not uncommon for graduating medical students to have close to $200,000 worth of loan debt just to get through those eight years of education," University of Tulsa's Dr. Gerard Clancy said.
Over the years, the combined OU-TU medical school has expanded facilities and programs for future Oklahoma medical professionals. The next step in expanding is money.
Thanks to the Warren Foundation and the St. Francis Health System, the university will have a bank of $10 million for scholarships.
“Oklahoma is particularly burdened for a shortage of doctors,” Clancy said. “We are the most challenged for providing primary care physicians for our state in the entire country.”
Awarding the scholarships will allow students to choose what specialty they want without having the burden of how much they'll need to make to pay off the cost of medical school.
The Warren Foundation, St. Francis and university representatives will select students with excellent academic standing from a pool of current pre-med and medical students going into primary care.
“These scholarships make it one step easier for some of those who may not think they can make it through medical school financially,” Clancy said.
The first scholarships will be awarded in August. The scholarship money will cover each student's expenses for four years.