Anthem Funds Initiative to Address Nevada’s Physician Shortage, Support Nevada’s Diverse Pre-Med Students and Promote Health Equity

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada funding supports the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine’s See It To Be It initiative, which seeks to create a more diverse medical workforce.

By Dionisia Malecki, Anthem Public Relations Director

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada's Medicaid health plan has committed $75,000 to fund a new University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) initiative called See It To Be It. This initiative will connect aspiring physicians from populations that are underrepresented in medicine and from medically underserved communities with medical students and physicians from similar backgrounds. By supporting pre-med students as they navigate the medical school admissions process, the program will support UNR Med and Anthem's shared commitment to preparing a diverse workforce of physicians. In turn, a more diverse medical workforce will be positioned to deliver more equitable health care services to multicultural and socioeconomically diverse populations, as well as to medically underserved communities.

"Physician shortages are at an all-time high across the United States and have reached unprecedented levels in Nevada, especially in communities of underserved areas," said UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "The See It To Be It initiative is intended to have a direct impact on developing a pipeline of physicians who have the cultural competency to build strong doctor-patient relationships and influence positive change in diverse communities. We believe this initiative will build a solid foundation for the future of our state, and we cannot thank Anthem enough for making the program possible." 

According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States could see an estimated physician shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. Nevada's physician shortage is one of the most severe in the nation, with the state ranking 48th for physician-to-patient ratios. Nevada is also the fourth fastest growing state in the U.S., with Black and Latinx populations leading that growth. However, the number of practicing physicians in Nevada is not occurring at the same pace as the population growth, which will likely cause more access to care challenges, especially in fast-growing communities of color, in rural Nevada and among Nevada's tribal communities. 

"Several studies have demonstrated that patients from diverse backgrounds are more likely to form trusting bonds with and benefit from having doctors who come from their own communities and can identify with their stories and experiences," said Lisa Thompson, M.D., Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada Medicaid medical director and Health Equity Task Force leader. "Anthem has made a commitment to identifying Nevada-specific health disparities, so we can introduce solutions that create more equitable healthcare experiences, enhance healthcare accessibility and improve health outcomes. Anthem's collaboration with UNR Med on the See It To Be It initiative is just one example of how we are delivering on our commitment and living our mission to improve lives." 

The See It To Be It initiative includes four elements:  

  1. A community initiative that recruits physicians, medical students, leaders and healthcare advocates from across the state to join a group that shares a passion for supporting pre-med students from medically underrepresented communities and from populations underrepresented in medicine. This group will meet regularly to discuss needs and develop solutions.
  2. Monthly podcasts with physicians, medical students, educators, public health officials and other key stakeholders/influencers. These podcasts will help amplify messages and sustain continued conversations.
  3. A mentorship program that connects pre-med students who are participating in the program with a group of three mentors, which includes a practicing physician, a medical student and a community member. This program will ensure the students have access to resources and support during their studies.
  4. A one-day summit that brings together pre-med students, physicians, healthcare advocates and others committed to broadening diversity, inclusion and equity within the medical workforce and to serving Nevada's diverse populations. 

"Anthem recognizes the complexity of health and is committed to developing unique solutions that address the needs of the communities we serve," said Lisa Bogard, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada, Medicaid. "By offering innovative solutions and addressing barriers, we can make healthcare simpler, more accessible, more equitable and help improve the health of our state." 

The See It To Be It initiative is expected to launch at the start of the 2021/2022 academic year. UNR Med has already hosted its first statewide meeting and invites physicians, community members and anyone interested in developing a diverse medical workforce, to become members of the See It To Be It community. UNR Med Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator, Andre Lawson and UNR Med Director of Admissions, Tamara Martinez-Anderson, will manage the initiative with support from a second-year medical student intern, Abel Edossa, and involvement by UNR Med Student Interest Groups. For more information, contact UNR Med at officeofadmissions@med.unr.edu


Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen, MPA
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Tuesday June 22, 2021 @ 10:00 AM