The American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation named Stephanie Welsh, a Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine student, a recipient of the 2018 AMA Foundation/AMA Alliance Grassroots Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship. She was one of 27 medical students nationwide to receive a scholarship from the AMA Foundation.
She is the sixth Boonshoft School of Medicine student to receive the tuition-assistance scholarship since 2012. Welsh will receive a $10,000 scholarship for her interest in the health of women and children. Recipients were nominated by their medical schools and chosen based on their academic achievement and financial need.
The AMA Foundation provides financial assistance to medical students facing medical school debt. The foundation has awarded more than $61 million in scholarships to medical students since 1960.
Welsh is beginning her fifth year of a five-year dual-degree program, the Physician Leadership Development Program. Through this innovative program, medical students can obtain a master’s degree in business or public health while pursuing their medical degree.
She has known since she was young that she would like to become a doctor. “I was lucky to have my mom, who practiced as an internist and then as a rheumatologist, as a role model,” said Welsh, of Charlotte, North Carolina. “My mom showed me that it’s possible to enjoy a challenging, rewarding career in medicine in addition to a fulfilling life with family.”
Since her undergraduate studies as an international health major at Georgetown University, Welsh has been committed to public health and primary care. During her senior year, she researched maternal health in rural villages of Chiapas, Mexico, for a semester. She interviewed local women in Spanish about their prenatal care practices to gain a better understanding of the under-utilization of a new birthing clinic in the area.
She chose to attend the Boonshoft School of Medicine partly because several family members earned their medical degrees from Wright State. They include her mother, Toni Evans ’81, her uncle Steve Evans ’80, and two cousins, Steve Evans Jr. ’96 and Jessica Evans ’12.
After her first year of medical school at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, she returned to Latin America, volunteering in Costa Rica in mobile health clinics to provide health care to rural and uninsured Costa Ricans.
“I plan to utilize my Spanish skills in my career, both with Spanish-speaking patients in the United States and future medical mission trips abroad,” Welsh said.
During medical school, she has authored five publications focused on women’s health, particularly the importance of addressing obesity and obesity-related bias to improve female reproductive health.
“We have conducted chart reviews and patient surveys to study the impact of obesity-related bias on health-seeking behaviors and health outcomes,” she said. “We want to raise awareness and improve physician communication skills to ensure that all women receive appropriate health care.”
During her Master of Public Health studies, Welsh completed a practicum with the Dayton Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Asthma Management Program. The program seeks to reduce childhood emergency room visits related to asthma through education and resources. She participated in home visits to educate children and caregivers about asthma, assess homes for allergens and provide allergen-reducing material like vacuums and mattress covers. She studied the effectiveness of the program in reducing emergency room visits and found a statistically significant reduction. She presented her findings at a national conference of the Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research in Savannah, Georgia in April 2017.
She is committed to promoting the health of women and children throughout her career by practicing medicine in a primary care field, while incorporating principles of public health into her practice.
“My goals also include conducting research and volunteering on missions abroad in addition to practicing locally, in order to expand my reach and improve the health of as many people as I can,” Welsh said.