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Medical Student Named AMA Foundation Minority Scholar

Vanessa Correa, a second-year medical student at the University of California, Riverside, was one of 13 students nationwide selected as a 2010 Minority Scholar by the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. The award includes a $10,000 scholarship.

Correa, 28, was presented the award from the AMA Minority Affairs Consortium at the AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago on June 11. She will begin her third year of medical school later this month at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“To be recognized out of so many students is humbling,” said Correa, who began her career as a registered nurse in order to care for her parents and finance her bachelor’s degree in biology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Previously, she had earned an A.S. in nursing from Los Angeles Harbor College in Wilmington.

The Minority Scholars Award, given in collaboration with the AMA Minority Affairs Consortium, with support from Pfizer Inc, promotes diversity in the medical profession and helps with the rapidly rising cost of medical education. It recognizes academic achievement and commitment to improving health in minority communities.

“These scholarships provide critical assistance to the most accomplished medical students from across the nation,” said Richard Hovland, AMA Foundation President. “Additionally, I am confident these students will play a key role in decreasing health care disparities in the United States – they have made the commitment, through their actions and words, to do so.”

In 2008, Correa was admitted into the inaugural class of UCLA’s Program in Medical Education (PRIME) and elected to complete her first two years of medical training at UCR in the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. PRIME is a five-year dual degree program leading to an M.D. and a master’s degree in an area such as public health, public policy, information technology or business. It trains leaders in medicine who will address policy, care and research in health care for underserved populations.

Correa said her interest in medicine began in childhood and was reinforced by her parents’ own health problems. “In my childhood, we didn’t have consistent health insurance. I went to county clinics for my immunizations,” she said. Once she completes her M.D. and a master’s degree in public health, Correa said she hopes not only to provide high-quality medical care to those less fortunate, but also work to expand access to health care for underserved communities.

At UCR, she has been involved in the Student Run Health Clinic as the Social Service Director, providing patient care and referrals to a homeless population, as well as raising funds for the clinic. Correa also tutored high school students and was the Latino Medical Student Association representative.

On June 23, she will also be recognized by the San Bernardino County Medical Society, receiving the $2,000 Ronald P. Bangasser, M.D. Medical Student Scholarship. The scholarship is named for the late physician, who served as president of the San Bernardino County Medical Society and California Medical Association. He was active in the American Medical Association and had a passion for improving the quality of healthcare, which Correa aspires to do as a future physician.

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