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2021 Aspirus Scholars named; program to tackle physician shortage

Metro Wire Staff

The Aspirus Health Foundation has awarded three medical students $450,000 in scholarships through its Aspirus Scholars Program. The students, all from the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin campus (MCW-CW), accepted their scholarships during a ceremony Thursday at Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

The Aspirus Scholars Program is a community collaboration to address the national physician shortage and meet the needs of people and communities in north-central Wisconsin and Upper Michigan today and for future generations.

It provides generous scholarships for tuition to medical students and connects them to Aspirus and the communities served by Aspirus during their training. In return, students commit to employment at Aspirus in the areas of primary care, psychiatry, or general surgery.

Scholarships were accepted by Jacob Elliott, Wisconsin Rapids; Sara Johnson of Crandon, and Eric Weaver, from Wausau. All three are first-year medical students.

“Our Aspirus Scholars award recipients already have strong ties to our area and are passionate about medicine and caring for patients,” said Tara Draeger, interim Executive Director of the Aspirus Health Foundation. “Each will be a tremendous addition to the Aspirus family and help us grow access to vital services in our communities.”

The Aspirus Scholars Program is a forward-looking approach that could bring as many as 62 new primary care, psychiatry or general surgery providers to communities in north-central Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan by the year 2030. It leverages the unique opportunity to collaborate with a college partner whose program is specifically designed to attract students interested in learning and working in community and rural settings.

A selection committee made up of Aspirus physicians and community members from Wisconsin and the U.P. screened the applications and selected the fifth class of Aspirus Scholars.

“This program was designed to offer additional opportunities for future physicians to train locally and fill an important need in our communities,” said Mathew Heywood, President & CEO of Aspirus, Inc. “Securing these types of commitments early helps us supplement our efforts to recruit physicians to practice in rural areas.”

The Aspirus Scholars Program is made possible through contributions from community partners such as The Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin; Judd S. Alexander Foundation; Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation, B.A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation; Dudley Foundation, Molinaro Family, and individual donors.

Vital investments were also made by Aspirus Ironwood Hospital (Ironwood, Mich.); Aspirus Iron River Hospital (Iron River, Mich.); Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (Laurium, Mich.); Aspirus Langlade Hospital (Antigo, Wis.); Aspirus Medford Hospital; Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital (Ontonagon, Mich.); Aspirus Riverview Hospital (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.); and Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

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