UC Davis physician assistant students receive national scholarships

October 31, 2016

Two physician assistant graduate students at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis each received a two-year, full scholarship from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to pursue their passion to become primary care providers and join a community of clinicians with a shared desire to serve people with limited access to health care.

UC Davis physician assistant students Brian Speh, left, and Justin Palmer received full scholarships from the National Health Service Corps. Both are members of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Class of 2018.
UC Davis physician assistant students Brian Speh, left, and Justin Palmer received full scholarships from the National Health Service Corps. Both are members of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Class of 2018.

Justin Palmer and Brian Speh are among this year’s 196 recipients selected from more than 5,000 applicants across the U.S. The purpose of the NHSC Scholarship Program is to provide scholarships to students pursuing primary care health professions training in return for a commitment to provide primary health services in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). The NHSC scholarship pays for tuition and various other reasonable education-related expenses and also provides a monthly stipend to assist with living expenses. For each year of financial support, Palmer and Speh agree to serve one year (minimum two years) at an NHSC-approved site in a high-need urban, rural or frontier community across the nation.

“Being from an extremely rural town of 500 people in Southern Illinois, I understand the struggles finding adequate health care. I hope to bridge this gap and provide for communities like the one I grew up in,” Palmer explained. “Health care equality is a great concern to me and this scholarship provides me with the assistance needed to successfully obtain my degree and serve as a leader within my community.”

“Despite offers from several notable programs, I chose UC Davis because it places more students in primary care and underserved regions that most other programs in the country,” Speh added. “Raised in rural Minnesota and serving in remote deployments while in the military, I understand rural environments. I look forward to returning to one and giving back to the communities that have given so much to me.”

In alignment with the School of Nursing’s vision to advance health, the mission of the physician assistant program is to educate health care professionals to deliver care as members of interprofessional health care teams and to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.

“Similar to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing’s goals, NHSC strives to improve access to care and eliminate health disparities for all Americans,” explained Gerald Kayingo, physician assistant program director. “We are fortunate that our students have been honored with these scholarships.”

More than 60 percent of UC Davis physician assistant graduates work in underserved areas. For more information on the school and its programs, visit nursing.ucdavis.edu.


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