Scottsdale docs offer scholarships to medical students | neighbors


Like many doctors, Dr Alyx Porter Umphrey and Dr Gregory Umphrey found themselves in huge debt after their medical school studies.

“When we were done, we went to dinner and talked about it and we were like, what just happened to us? How did we get into this position? ‘ “Said Alyx.

The Doctors of Scottsdale have decided to do something to help future generations of doctors.

“After a lot of thought and hard work, we created ElevateMeD, something we wished we had,” says Alex. “We offer scholarships, mentoring, leadership development and financial wellness education to under-represented students. This is what we could have used as medical students and this is what we are giving to this next generation.

The average medical school debt per student is $ 269,000. The figure is higher in the specialty areas.

“Where the disparity really widens is when you start thinking about specialist care, because the residences are longer,” Alyx explained. “So the earning potential is further delayed as interest continues to accrue on that $ 269,000. You could talk eight years later before you can afford to make a payment.

She said that students from underrepresented backgrounds have higher debt rates when leaving undergraduate school and it’s even higher after medical school.

“The definition of underrepresented that we use provided by the National Institute of Health is one that identifies as Black, African American, Latino, Hispanic, Native or Native,” Alyx explained. “Specialties with shorter residences tend to attract more black and brown students because of the debt load.

“And many of these specialties – like family medicine and internal medicine – have programs that are out there where there are loan repayment options. So if you get into these specialties and practice in underserved areas, then they can help you pay off your debt. These programs disappear once you start looking for specialties. Already, in medicine at all levels, there are fewer under-represented physicians than what we see in the population.

Alyx said it was shocking to realize the number of students living below the poverty line in medical schools and the amount of credit card debt.

She said some doctors take 30 years to pay off their medical school debt. It took the Umphrey about eight years.

“We got great financial advice and that’s what got us to pay off the debt,” Alyx said. “A lot of doctors from under-represented backgrounds don’t have a parent, parent or doctor before them, they may ask, ‘How are you dealing with this? “What are you doing about it?” This is why this financial part is such an important part of our program.

The couple launched ElevateMeD in May 2019 and awarded the top 10 students $ 10,000 each in scholarships a year later. Their non-profit organization provides financial advice to beneficiaries.

“What I think is the most valuable part of our program is student access to executive coaching which includes financial planning and mentoring,” said Alyx. “That you can’t put a price.

“We’ve been able to grow because of generous donors and some pretty amazing business partners and grants,” Alyx said.

Their employers – Mayo Clinic and Barrow Brain and Spine – have been great sponsors, she said.

ElevateMeD is also the only nonprofit in Arizona to receive the Chick-Fil-A Inspiration Award which included $ 100,000.

“With what we received, we were able to grow in 2021, awarding $ 150,000 in scholarships,” said Alyx. “And we funded five returning scholars who had yet to graduate an additional year, adjusted our event in early October and awarded an additional $ 50,000 scholarship to a deserving student.

“To date, we’re at about $ 300,000 in terms of the amount of support we’ve provided over the past two years to a total of 20 students. “

ElevateMeD is made up of all volunteers. A careful selection process is followed to ensure that quality and integrity are used in the selection of fellows.

“We have deliberately chosen the schools that we have partnered with so that we can offer our scholarship program,” said Alyx. “We started with 10 schools based on board member alma maters and personal connections. In 2021, we have expanded to a total of 15 partner schools. In 2022, we will be able to develop further.

Applicants must be nominated by one of ElevateMeD’s partner schools and be a third or fourth year medical student who identifies as being from an under-represented background in medicine.

“You have to have a good academic record,” Alyx explained. “And then we have a video app that a student submits with a letter of recommendation from a faculty member. Thus, the students who are nominated in each of these individual schools compete with other students in their school. They are not necessarily competing nationally.

The goal is to eventually give full scholarships.

Alyx was born and raised in Scottsdale and attended Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. She had a full undergraduate scholarship.

Greg is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is the middle child of two siblings. He started gymnastics at the age of 7 and received a full scholarship to UCLA where he competed in national and international competitions until 1996. He attended Howard University College of Medicine.

“Until I entered medical school, I had no debt,” said Greg. “I had to take loans from the government because my parents didn’t have the funds and I didn’t have the funds to pay for my medical education.

“So we pretty much had to withdraw the maximum amount. Over time, over the course of the four years, it builds up and builds up so that when I started my residency I had a significant amount. I did three years of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic and finally moved on to physical medicine, rehabilitation.

“Greg and I met during our residency at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota,” Alyx said. “When we shared our stories and experiences, we learned that we both came from families that supported us emotionally but less financially. When it was time to enter medical school, we were both so grateful that we entered.

“For me, on the very first day, I separated from those who had financial support and those who didn’t. That day I had to make a very difficult decision and that decision was to take out a combination of private and federal loans. In the end, Greg chose the same.

“When we finally met, we got together, had these difficult discussions of what it would be like to combine households, we realized that together we owed over $ 500,000 in loans for medical schools. As a married couple, every decision we made we made with our debt in mind. And we have worked very hard to pay off that debt as quickly as possible. “

Today, Alyx is a neuro-oncologist treating brain cancer at the Mayo Clinic. Greg cares for spine patients and those with neck, back, joint and muscle skeleton problems. He also does sports medicine.

Their advice for students considering entering medicine?

“I just want to reassure them that there is a way to do it and to do it well and that there are organizations like ElevateMeD that are there to support them,” said Alyx.

“I echo that,” Greg said. “I think it’s important to pursue your dreams, to push and there are definitely the resources there. You just have to find them. We are one of those resources for these third and fourth year medical students. If we can garner enough support, financial aid and donations for our program, then we can help more students. Keep on going. Keep moving.

Information: elevatemed.org, [email protected], or 480-269-5774


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