Student with local ties picked for medical student scholarship

A student with Lincoln County ties was recently selected to receive education funds from the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program, which is part of a state-supported effort to provide more physicians to serve the healthcare needs of rural residents in Mississippi.

Sydney West, a 20-year-old Mississippi College junior from Raymond, recently learned she will be receiving one of the scholarships. “I’m extremely excited – this is an amazing opportunity,” West said in a Mississippi College press release. “I always wanted to be a doctor since middle school.”



Sydney, who hopes to practice family medicine in the Magnolia State in a few years, is the daughter of Brookhaven natives Chuck and Cindy West, who now live in Raymond. Sydney’s grandparents are Shelby and Betty Smith and Charles and Linda West, all of Brookhaven.

A 2012 graduate of Hillcrest Christian School, she is a biological sciences major at MC. She also volunteers in the University of Mississippi Medical Center emergency room in Jackson where she processes paperwork, helps families and performs other duties.

Receiving a scholarship of about $30,000 per-year for medical school is quite a blessing, Sydney said. “It lifts the financial burden off of you.”

Founded by the Mississippi Legislature in 2007, the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program has awarded annual scholarships to medical students in the state since 2008. The program identifies college sophomores and juniors showing the commitment and academic achievements to become rural primary care physicians.

The legislature appropriates approximately $1.5 million each year to provide the scholarships to 50 medical students. The program opens doors for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school, receive MCAT preparation valued at $2,000 and be awarded a $30,000-a year four-year medical school scholarship totaling $120,000 spanning four years.

In return, the students must devote four years of service in a clinic-based medical practice in Mississippi in a community of less than 20,000 residents.

Students selected for the physician program can be admitted to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson or the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg.

The Legislature created a similar program in 2013 to increase the number of dentists in rural Mississippi communities. Up to five students are selected each year statewide for the dental school scholarships.

For more information about the two programs, contact Jake Donald at 601-815-9022.