UAMS Medical Student From Gurdon Awarded $10,000 to Choose Primary Care

By Ben Boulden

The $10,000 scholarship was funded by the non-profit Arkansas Mutual Insurance Co. in partnership with the UAMS College of Medicine to encourage more medical students to enter primary care fields such as family practice and general internal medicine and to practice in rural Arkansas where access to physicians is limited.

Portions or all of 52 of Arkansas’ 75 counties have been designated as federal Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. Approximately 44 percent of Arkansans live in rural areas. Primary care physician shortages are projected to increase substantially in the years ahead as the state’s population continues to age and require more medical care, and as more Arkansans, newly insured as a result of health system reform, seek primary care services.

“All Arkansans deserve access to high-quality primary care,” said G. Richard Smith, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine. “We want our students to understand the difference that they can make by choosing to practice primary care in a smaller community, and we are thankful that Arkansas Mutual shares our commitment to rural Arkansans.”

“Arkansas Mutual was very pleased to make this scholarship possible,” said Corey Little, CEO of the only medical liability insurance provider headquartered in Arkansas. “The scholarship’s focus on rural health care is especially important today and reflects our company’s mission not only to protect and serve the physicians of the state, but also to contribute to a healthier Arkansas.”

“We congratulate Ms. Franklin and are thrilled that the scholarship is going to such an outstanding student who is clearly committed to practicing primary care in rural Arkansas,” Little said.

Franklin is active in the UAMS Family Medicine Interest Group and currently serves as the student organization’s secretary. As co-president of the campus Rural Medicine Student Leadership Association for the 2013-2014 academic year, she helped to organize a health screening clinic in Arkadelphia, where she eventually hopes to practice.

Franklin grew up in Benton and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, prior to medical school. She and her husband have lived in his hometown of Gurdon, southwest of Arkadelphia in Clark County, for the past several years when not in Little Rock for school. They have a 2-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter.

“Gurdon is home, and we plan to raise our children there,” said Franklin. “I want to serve in a small town where I am most needed and can do the most good.”

Franklin has “shadowed” several physicians on clinical internships in Arkadelphia including John Elkins, M.D., who delivered both of her children. “I want to practice family medicine and have additional training in obstetrics so that I can deliver a full spectrum of care to my patients,” she said.

The College of Medicine has worked with partners such as Arkansas Mutual to increase scholarships for medical students. The high cost of medical school and the burden of educational debt that most medical students face when entering residency can be a factor in choosing higher-paying specialties instead of primary care. The average medical school debt of the 2014 UAMS graduates with educational debt is $160,244.

“The prospect of paying back large loans is daunting for medical students, especially if they want to practice primary care in a small town,” said Franklin. “This scholarship lets me worry less about paying back loans and reinforces going into medicine for the reasons I wanted in the first place. I am very thankful.”

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state's Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and four dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.