UAMS Programs Receive More Than $450,000 in Grants from Blue & You Foundation, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

By Jon Parham

The Blue & You Foundation today awarded more than $350,000 in grants to UAMS programs including $150,000 to the Center for Dental Education and $95,000 to the physician assistant program, both in the UAMS College of Health Professions. A $77,500 grant was presented to the UAMS Northwest regional campus and area hospitals creating an internal medicine residency program to expand the number of resident physicians being trained in that part of the state. A $29,722 grant was awarded to the Safety Baby Showers program at UAMS South in Magnolia that has provided infant safety training and safety equipment to new or expectant parents in south Arkansas.

The Center for Dental Education also received $100,000 in support from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Together the $450,000 in grants and support from the two organizations will allow for continued development or expansion of education, patient care and outreach programs at UAMS.

“The Blue & You Foundation grants and support from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield provide much-needed funding for programs that aid the UAMS mission of health care improvement in Arkansas through education of new health care professionals, increasing the number of physicians providing patient care and helping parents learn potentially lifesaving infant safety techniques,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.

Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation, joined UAMS officials to announce the grants. The Center for Dental Education, physician assistant program, internal medicine residency program and Safety Baby Showers program all received previous grants from the Blue & You Foundation.

“These UAMS programs reinforce the mission of the Blue & You Foundation to support programs that bring communities together in positive and healthy ways. We are excited to support their work in making Arkansas safer and healthier,” O’Sullivan said.

The grant to the Center for Dental Education will support an externship program at UAMS for fourth-year dental students from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry to start in February. The students will spend time working in the center’s Oral Health Clinic and at Arkansas Children’s Hospital providing general dental care for patients under supervision of adjunct faculty.

The $100,000 in support from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield continues the development of a dental residency program and provides equipment for the clinic, which will soon open five more exam rooms — for a total of 10 — along with a lab and sterilization area it will share with the adjacent UAMS dental hygiene program.

“The grants to our Center for Dental Education and physician assistant programs continue the momentum for two of our newest programs, improving access to medical or oral health care as well as growing the number of health care professionals in Arkansas,” said College of Health Professions Dean Douglas Murphy, Ph.D.

The $95,000 grant to the physician assistant program will continue development for the program established in 2011, including raising awareness of the physician assistant profession among Arkansas physicians and preparing them to host students while they gain further clinical experience.

The first class of 26 physician assistant students started the 28-month master’s degree program in 2013. Physician Assistants are licensed medical providers who work with the supervision of a physician. They take patient medical histories, conduct physical exams, order diagnostic tests, diagnose medical conditions, write prescriptions and manage acute illness and chronic disease with the supervision of a physician.

The internal medicine residency program in northwest Arkansas, which hopes to admit its first group of eight physicians in July 2015, is continuing to move through the accreditation process. The three-year program will have a total of 24 residents, admitting eight each year, who will see patients at five hospital systems in the region — Mercy Rogers, Mercy Fort Smith, the Springdale-based Northwest Health System, the Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks — as the physicians serve a post-medical school residency.

“We are moving steadily forward in the multi-step process for establishing and gaining accreditation for our internal medicine residency and we could not have come this far without the support of the Blue & You Foundation,” said Peter Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest. “We had a positive site visit in August 2013 from the accrediting body and feel good that we are creating the kind of quality program that will help patients in Arkansas for many years to come.”

Funding to the residency program is for equipment and resources to coordinate the conferences and continuing education fees associated with providing CME credit to physicians who will be preceptors supervising the resident physicians at the hospitals.

The grant to the three-year-old Safety Baby Showers program, based at UAMS South in Magnolia, will cover program costs for a year of safety classes that have reached about 200 new or expectant parents a year in Ouachita and Columbia counties. Participants learn about motor vehicle injury prevention, safe sleep practices for infants, infant CPR and choke-safety, and home safety.

“We’ve had a great response from those who have participated in Safety Baby Showers to date and are excited at the support that will continue this program,” said Rebecka Wendling, outreach coordinator for the Safety Baby Showers program.

Along with the safety training, the participants receive a portable crib and other home safety items, such as cabinet locks, that are intended to reduce the risk of injury to infants.

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,500 employees.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001 as a charitable foundation to promote better health in Arkansas. The Blue & You Foundation awards grants annually to nonprofit or governmental organizations and programs that positively affect the health of Arkansans.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,865 students and 785 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit or