Healthcare quality improves when people can access care on their own terms, accounting for their individual values, attitudes, and beliefs. In some communities in the United States, a shortage of healthcare professionals makes it difficult for people to obtain the personalized care they need. This is especially true for rural areas, where the number of healthcare providers has declined in recent years, and for historically marginalized groups of people, who may not be able to find high-quality or accessible healthcare providers who reflect their cultures or experiences. To advance health equity, we must have providers who go beyond cultural competence to recognize and treat individual differences by practicing medicine with cultural humility. In creating the Elevance Health Equity Scholarships, we contribute to increasing the diversity and alleviating the shortage of healthcare providers in historically marginalized and underserved communities.
Rural communities often contend with high levels of poverty, food insecurity, and other social drivers of health that lead to health inequities. In Kentucky alone, there are shortages of rural health professionals in more than 40 different practice categories.
Practice areas that qualify for Elevance Health Equity Scholarships include primary care physicians, mental health and substance-use disorder providers, certified nurse midwives, and providers in other key shortage categories. In return, the students commit to working in a rural or underserved community for two or three years after graduation.