WKU and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky launch scholarship program for future healthcare professionals
BOWLING GREEN, KY. (October 11, 2022) – Western Kentucky University (WKU) and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky today announced an endowed scholarship to increase the number of frontline workers in the western region of the state, increase access to care and improve health equity in rural Kentucky. The Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship will support up to four WKU students with a $100,000 donation from Anthem Medicaid that will serve the students for years to come.
According to a 2022 report by the Kentucky Hospital Association, 22% of all nursing jobs in the state are unfilled and 14% of nurses are near retirement. In 2021 alone, hospitals in Kentucky reported more than 13,000 vacancies. Shortages like this, coupled with the high prevalence of multiple chronic diseases in the state, reinforce the need to increase the number of healthcare professionals in the Commonwealth.
“What an exciting day for health care in Western Kentucky,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni. “We are thrilled to partner with Anthem Medicaid to create this much-needed opportunity for our students. This donation helps us achieve our mission to prepare healthcare professionals for an inclusive, community-based, and interdisciplinary college experience.
Kentucky communities are still reeling from recent disasters that have devastated the Commonwealth. Areas that already lack quality health care face increasing challenges as settlements rebuild, families heal and individuals identify new health care options. This scholarship will help build and maintain a strong network of highly skilled healthcare providers in some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable communities.
“Anthem recognizes the importance of investing in the future healthcare workforce to ensure Kentucky communities have access to essential healthcare services and reduce health inequities,” said Leon Lamoreaux, President. of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky. “We are proud to work alongside Western Kentucky University to improve lives and communities in all regions of the state and ensure that institutions on the front lines of health care education and training, in especially for rural and underserved communities that need it most, are well supported.
The Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Fellowship requires applicants to be full-time students at WKU, majoring in a healthcare-related field, including nursing, pre-medicine, or pre-dentistry. Recipients must plan to work in Western Kentucky for at least three years after graduation, helping to provide quality care in areas that need it most.
Abbey Mills, a senior from Bowling Green, Ky., who is majoring in biology, is one of the first two scholarship recipients. She plans to stay in Bowling Green after graduation to serve alongside vendors and people she has come to know.
“I am so grateful to receive this scholarship and to serve in the community I call home,” Mills said. “I hope that with the network I’ve created, people will see me as a familiar face, which will make them feel even more comfortable coming to me for their future healthcare needs.”
“Scholarships like this make a huge difference in the lives of students, who then pay for them by making a difference in the community,” said Dr. David N. Brown, Dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering. “Abbey is a wonderful representative of Ogden College, pursuing an excellent degree, seeking expert hands-on training and using her education to give back to the community.”
The second recipient of the scholarship is Sarah Ela Saysanavong, a 2014 WKU alumnus who was recently admitted to WKU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She says she could not have pursued a second degree without the support of scholarship opportunities like this.
“I am honored to receive the first-ever Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Fellowship,” said Saysanavong. “I’ve always wanted to work in a field that allows me to improve the quality of patient care and promote proactivity in healthcare, and this scholarship makes that even more real. I cannot thank WKU and Anthem Medicaid enough for their confidence in the next generation.
Dr. Tania Basta, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the College and University are grateful for this generous donation from Anthem Medicaid.
“This donation will allow students who specialize in health-related clinical areas to graduate and then serve our community by working in our region upon graduation. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for recipients of this new scholarship.
Western Kentucky lawmakers and WKU alumni State Representative Michael Meredith (R-KY) and State Senator David Givens (R-KY) congratulated the two students and celebrated the new scholarship opportunity.
“As a proud Hilltopper graduate, I am thrilled about this groundbreaking partnership between Anthem Medicaid and Western Kentucky University,” said Senator Givens. “Our state is suffering from a much larger health care shortage, and this is just one innovative solution to help people get the care they need in Western Kentucky.”
Today’s announcement builds on Anthem Medicaid’s recent partnerships with several other Commonwealth institutions. Over the past year, Anthem Medicaid has pledged over half a million dollars to invest in the future of education and healthcare access across the Commonwealth.
“Our region has been through so much in the past year,” Rep. Meredith said. “And this is just another example of the outpouring of support our friends and neighbors have shown. It’s heartening to know that partners like Anthem Medicaid and WKU are looking for ways to not only solve the current problem that afflicts our state, but also to find ways to create a bright future for our young people.
The Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Fellowship is administered by the College Heights Foundation. For more information, contact Jessica Carver at the College Heights Foundation at (270) 745-2342.
About Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty, and staff for long-term success. As a student-centered applied research university, WKU helps students expand classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Ky., which was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of America’s Most Beautiful Cities, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered trademarks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky is available at www.anthem.com. Also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/anthemBCBS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AnthemBlueCrossBlueShield.