Ashley Schumaker, of Allegan, becomes the third Central Michigan University College of Medicine student to earn a national four-year, full-ride scholarship from the National Health Service Corp that will cover her medical education costs.
Schumaker, who earned her undergraduate degree at Central, says the prestigious award is an endorsement of the mission of CMU’s medical program.
“The College of Medicine is attracting so many people who are committed to providing healthcare to medically underserved areas,” Schumaker said. “It’s awesome to be surrounded by students and faculty who demonstrate how devoted they are to fulfilling that mission.”
Nearly 1,850 students across the country pursuing primary health care professions in underserved areas applied for 190 scholarships from the NHSC. Fewer than 60 scholarships went to medical school students like Schumaker.
Schumaker agrees to provide one year of service in a medically underserved area for each year of financial support. She currently gets her clinical experience at the Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center working with patients from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
“You can really sense the trust in relationships — the patients love their doctors,” Schumaker said. “It’s nice to know you can get so close to the people you are there to help.
“I picture myself always working in an underserved area because I’m so passionate about it,” Schumaker said. “I’m hoping to practice with children whose parents have a hard time getting health care for them. I want to be involved in the community so I can see the positive impact health access can make in a child and community’s life.”
Barbara Buehler, of Delton, and Paige Piper, of Midland, now third year students, are the first College of Medicine students to get their medical school costs paid for.
Buehler is completing her hospital-based clerkship in Saginaw. Piper is doing her community-based clerkship in Sault Ste. Marie.
Growing up in a small southwestern Michigan community made her appreciate the need for improved access to quality medical care.
“I’ve experienced driving an hour or more if you need advanced health care,” Schumaker said. “We know that having a population of people that has poor health doesn’t affect just that group — it impacts society as a whole. Addressing that issue is what motivates me.”
CMU is the 137th medical school in the country. Now in it’s third year with 272 students, 85 percent are from Michigan. The College of Medicine was founded to address a growing shortage of physicians that is expected to reach 6,000 doctors by 2020. Rural and medically underserved areas like central and northern Michigan are expected to be hardest hit.
More than 85,260 students are pursuing doctor of medicine degrees in the U.S.