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Program to provide debt-free medical school and living assistance to medical students who commit to work within primary care at the health system after graduating

Geisinger and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine today announced the Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program to provide debt-free medical school and living assistance to medical students who commit to work within primary care at the health system after graduating. The program will expand access to care for the communities in the Geisinger Service Area.

Nationally, medical students carry an average of $200,000 in debt, driving many to seek higher-paying specialty careers. With a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians projected in the coming years (including the areas Geisinger serves), removing financial burden will make it easier for more students interested in primary care to actually pursue a career in it. By committing to remain at Geisinger for four years after the completion of residency, these scholars will help expand Geisinger’s commitment to making health easier for the communities it serves, alongside existing programs like Geisinger 65 Forward, Geisinger at Home, Primary Care Redesign, the MyCode Community Health Initiative, and more.

“At Geisinger, we’ve been able to prove that by focusing on primary care we can improve outcomes, lower costs and improve satisfaction among patients and providers,” said Dr. Jaewon Ryu, president and chief executive officer at Geisinger. “We’ve built some innovative programs that expand upon the notion of what is primary care and where it is delivered. With all of these different offerings, we are thrilled to welcome anyone who shares this passion around new and exciting ways to deliver this core care. So, it’s only natural that we extend that commitment to training the next generation of physicians. These scholars have the opportunity to learn and later work in Geisinger’s innovative primary care environment without the worry of how they will pay for their education.”

The program will select 40 students in each incoming medical class through a competitive application process. Selection criteria include demonstrated financial need, academic merit, diversity, passion for serving their communities, and predictors of whether the applicant is likely to stay in Geisinger’s service area. Debt-free means full coverage of tuition and fees plus a living stipend of $2,000 per month through the four years of medical school. This structure of support is modeled on the Federal military and Public Health Service scholarships, enhanced with curricular elements and leveraging Geisinger’s signature innovations in primary care.

This opportunity is being offered, on a competitive basis, to current first- and second-year medical students, who will be notified before the beginning of the spring semester. In each incoming class, all applicants accepted to Geisinger Commonwealth will be invited to apply for this program and will be notified each year in April preceding the start of classes in August.

“I can’t think of a better opportunity for these scholars to pursue their commitment to primary care than by providing debt-free medical schooling,” said Steven J. Scheinman, MD, executive vice president and chief academic officer at Geisinger and Dean of the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. “Medical school debt places a huge burden on our graduates. We are proud of our curricular innovations, including active learning, longitudinal clinical experiences and community engagement, and this renewed emphasis on primary care represents a significant additional innovation. Like the Geisinger system, this medical school traces its roots to the community and feels a strong obligation to serve that community. This personal connection is a hallmark of Geisinger and one of the reasons we’ve seen such success across all our primary care programs.”

This program is not just about providing debt-free medical school, it is also about rethinking how we train tomorrow’s doctors to meet the evolving needs of our communities. Geisinger is also re-inventing the curriculum with enhancements featuring innovative primary care models. An integral benefit of the Primary Care Scholars program is that scholars will be matched with a Geisinger doctor who will serve as their mentor through their years in medical school and enabling in-depth exposure to some of today’s most innovative and unique primary care models.

Last year Geisinger implemented the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program, named in honor of the system’s founder, which enables 10 select students in each class to receive up to four years of tuition in the form of a loan, which is forgiven upon completion of a service commitment as a Geisinger physician in any specialty. The Geisinger Primary Care Scholars program expands this commitment to a larger cohort of the class. It is also a forgivable loan, structured similarly but with an emphasis on primary care, an obligation to serve in a primary care field, and enhanced with the living stipend.

 

About Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth) is a member of the Geisinger family. Geisinger Commonwealth offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Atlantic City, Danville, Doylestown, Sayre, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD), Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) and Professional Science Master's (PSM) degrees. The school’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region, as well as from across the nation. The school also has more than 500 residents and fellows in 31 accredited residency programs and 23 accredited fellowships. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. For more information, visit www.geisinger.edu/gcsom, or connect with us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

 

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1.5 million consumers it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 13 hospital campuses, a 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With 32,000 employees and 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by billions of dollars annually. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Geisinger
Matthew Van Stone
Media Relations Director
570-808-3344
mrvanstone1@geisinger.edu

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Elizabeth Zygmunt
Director, Media and Public Relations 
Office: 570-504-9687
On Call: 570-687-9703
ezygmunt@som.geisinger.edu