Seventh class of Aspirus Scholars awarded scholarships with the goal of filling physician needs in rural areas
The Northwoods is home to a large population of older adults, an age group that tends to require more medical care as they age.
The extra need for care comes at a time when it’s getting harder for rural hospitals to find physicians to hire.
Aspirus says it works to close that gap through its scholarship program.
Lauren Woyak is a first-year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin Campus.
“I want to be a doctor because I grew up in this area. I experienced healthcare as a patient, had a lot of different health experiences of my own. That made me want to be able to have a full circle moment and give back to others in my community that maybe are experiencing something that I did when I was younger,” said Woyak.
Woyak, from Stevens Points, is one of four students to receive a combined $450,000 in scholarship money through the Aspirus Scholars Program. Wausau 1st Year Medical Student Paige Boruch, Plover 1st Year Medical Student Elllie Mallek, and Giridhar Murali from Shelton, CT, also a 1st Year Medical Student, are the other Aspirus Scholars this year.
Aspirus says the 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.
It provides 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.
“There are physician shortages already. We know it’s not going to get any better. To be able to have such outstanding new physicians joining our communities and staying here in central Wisconsin is such a wonderful thing to have,” Lanna Scannell, Aspirus Vice President, System Philanthropy.
Woyak says as the first member of her family to seek a medical degree, the scholarship is a great opportunity to give back to her community.
“Growing up in rural healthcare was all I really knew. I didn’t know rural healthcare was rural healthcare until college. Finding out about the need for physicians in Wisconsin as well as other areas of the United States and just understanding what a physician shortage truly is, it’s really amazing that Aspirus is committing to producing rural physicians and caring for people in the rural areas of Wisconsin,” said Woyak.
This is the seventh class of Aspirus Scholars.