Recently, two Scottsdale physicians, Dr. Alyx Porter Umphrey and Dr. Gregory Umphrey, saw the explosion of a dream come true when they publicly launched ElevateMeD, a local nonprofit. ElevateMeD is committed to elevating the field of medicine by providing financial support and mentorship to future physicians of historically underrepresented backgrounds. In its first year, the Scottsdale-based organization has established a diverse board of directors whose efforts have raised more than $200,000 toward their scholarship program.
The obstacles this physician couple faced on their journey are what many students from underrepresented backgrounds will face in their pursuit of medicine. According to The American Medical Student Association, “cost is the top reason qualified minority students reported not enrolling in medical school.” This is one contributing factor to our nation’s disproportionate representation in the medical field, directly impacting health disparities like those reported during COVID-19. ElevateMeD is on a mission to increase physician workforce diversity and improve cultural competence among physicians to reduce those health disparities.
After accruing and paying off more than $300,000 in combined medical school debt, Dr. Alyx Porter Umphrey and Dr. Gregory Umphrey saw ElevateMeD as a solution to create lasting change for the next generation of physician leaders. ElevateMeD is committed to providing that support through the Scholars Program, a multifaceted program designed to annually provide 10 recipients a $10,000 scholarship during each year of their medical program, physician mentorship, access to peer network support, leadership development opportunities, and financial management education.
ElevateMeD proudly just announced its first inaugural cohort of students from across the U.S. These students were nominated by partnering institutions and then selected through an application process. This year’s cohort of scholars include: Aaron Bia (University of Arizona), Anthony Osifuye (University of Minnesota), Christian Freeman (Emory University), Gabriela Alejo (UT Southwestern Medical Center), Harvey Lewis (Howard University), Kalonji Cole (Charles R. Drew University/UCLA), Louisa Appiah (East Carolina University), Mahdieh Hosseini (Temple University), Shannon Coombs (Mayo Clinic), and Shanita Thomas (Wayne State University).
“Of all of the moments filled with various emotions that have been brought forward by COVID-19, one of the most impactful and sustaining has been the selection process of our inaugural cohort of scholars,” shares Dr. Alyx Porter Umphrey, who also serves as executive director. “I have never been more certain that our future is bright. These brilliant medical students embody the drive, resilience, and tenacity that is required to affect change regarding the disparities we see in health care.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal the importance of the ElevateMeD mission and hope for the future of health care. The organization does not plan to slow down the momentum created in year one, and will make pivots as necessary. To learn more about how you can support the ElevateMeD mission, and learn more about this year’s scholars, visit elevatemed.org.
Photo by Deanna S. Reid, The SocialPhotog