Preethika Ekanayake, a fourth-year medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine, has won a Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship from the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. Ekanayake is one of 18 students from across the United States who received the $10,000 award, which recognizes academic excellence and community involvement.
"These medical students represent the very best of the next generation of physicians," said AMA Foundation President Owen Garrick. "Their academic achievements, public health initiatives and volunteer activities illustrate their commitment to assume leadership roles in the medical community and improve health care in the United States."
Ekanayake has been an active scholar and volunteer, both within and outside of the UC Davis School of Medicine. As a co-director of the Willow Clinic, she provides basic medical and psychiatric services to homeless patients and started a pharmacy for the clinic. She also is a 2nd Lieutenant in the California Army National Guard and an officer of the American Medical Women's Association and UC Davis School of Medicine. Her research efforts include work exploring endoscopic modalities in the medical center's gastroenterology clinic. She also has won numerous awards for scholarship.
The AMA Foundation has made it a priority to assist medical students in handling the rising cost of medical education by providing high-impact tuition assistance scholarships. On average, medical students in the U.S. graduate with a debt load of nearly $158,000. A large debt burden may deter many from practicing in underserved areas of the country or practicing primary care medicine.