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Crandon Woman Awarded Scholarship Through Aspirus Scholars Program


Three medical students from North Central Wisconsin were recently awarded $450,000 in scholarships through the Aspirus Scholars Program.

“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.”

Sara Johnson from Crandon is one of the students. She’s currently a first-year medical student at Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin.

Johnson said the Crandon community supported her in so many different ways growing up

“It wasn’t unordinary when I was in high school for people to buy me a milkshake because I was on the honor roll in the newspaper or because I had a good basketball the night before,” said Johnson. “I think there’s just comfort that comes from being from a small, tight-knit community.”

Johnson said that support has continued as she’s started family and got accepted into medical school.

Now a first-year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin, Johnson looks forward to giving back to rural communities like the one she grew up in.

She’s focused on community-based primary care in family medicine.

“It’s just foundational in the way that you interact with patients. You become a part of their healthcare team. You work with other professionals for the well being of the one individual. I really think that being in family medicine helps you interact with the community in as a whole,” said Johnson.

Johnson will get opportunity to work in rural communities as a recently named Aspirus Scholar.

The goal of the Aspirus Scholars Program is to address the national physician shortage and fill positions in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.

“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.”

In return for the scholarship money to support their education, the students commit to employment at Aspirus, a requirement Johnson was more than happy to agree to.

“Being able to be a part of a community-based, kind of program where it aligns with my career goals to give back to small rural populations, it just made sense, it fit too well and to be awarded it, it was a good feeling and overall, I was just really thankful,” said Johnson.

Through the Scholars Program, Aspirus aims to bring as many as 62 new primary care, psychiatry, and general surgery providers to its system by 2030.

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