Higher Education Policy Commission grants $360,000 in awards to support health care in rural and underserved areas of West Virginia


Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) today awarded a combined $360,000 to 17 health sciences students from across West Virginia to help pay for their education. The awards are part of the state’s Health Sciences Service Program, which was begun in 1995 by the West Virginia Legislature.

Since its inception, the program has provided $2.8 million in funding to help 213 awardees cover education expenses in exchange for a commitment to practice in a rural or underserved community in West Virginia following their graduation.

“The financial support provided through the Health Sciences Service Program is not only significant to the recipients of these awards, but also to the West Virginians in the communities where these practitioners work,” said Dr. Paul L. Hill, HEPC chancellor. “Many areas of the state are without health care professionals, or residents have to travel great distances to get the care they need.

“By placing these recent graduates in our state’s rural and underserved areas, health care is becoming more accessible throughout West Virginia. I commend these award recipients for their commitment to providing quality health services to all West Virginians.”

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in the final year of a health professions graduate program and studying to become dentists, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, nurse midwives, pharmacists, physical therapists, primary care and emergency medicine physicians, physician assistants, doctoral psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

HEPC’s Division of Health Sciences administers the awards, which this year total $360,000 and range from $15,000 to $30,000 per student. Recipients were selected based on their academic achievements and demonstration of a strong commitment to advancing rural health and the health care of underserved populations. Awardees by program are:

Dentistry

  • Shawn Ballard from Boone County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • Kelly Lyons from Monongalia County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • Colter Taylor from Roane County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University

Medicine

  • Jenna Barbour from Wayne County, West Virginia, who graduated from Marshall University
  • Zane Dennison from Braxton County, West Virginia, who graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Brandon Merritt from Kanawha County, West Virginia, who graduated from Marshall University
  • Kyle Miller from Roanoke, Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University

Nurse Practitioner

  • Cara Burker from Sharpsburg, Maryland, who graduated from Shepherd University
  • Daonna Fox from Fayette County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • Julie Orr from Mercer County, West Virginia, who graduated from Marshall University

Pharmacy

  • Jessica Barnett from Gilmer County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • James Kincaid from Fayette County, West Virginia, who graduated from Marshall University

Physical Therapy

  • Ashley Gill from Jackson County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • Devin Heitz from Harrison County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University
  • Kristina Hickenbottom from Wood County, West Virginia, who graduated from West Virginia University

Social Work

  • Betsy Coulter from Braxton County, West Virginia, who graduated from Concord University
  • Shane Lightle from Cabell County, West Virginia, who graduated from Marshall University

For more information about the Health Sciences Service Program, visit the state’s free college-planning website at www.cfwv.com.

 

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