PLATTSBURGH — Area doctors are promoting a plan to financially support local medical students in an effort to attract them back to the North Country as physicians.
The Northern New York Medical Foundation, which includes many of the practicing physicians from across the region, has developed a program that will give scholarships of at least $10,000 to candidates from Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties.
“Over the years, we have found it extremely difficult to attract younger people into the North Country,” said Dr. Sohom Patel, president of the Northern New York Medical Foundation. “It’s been an ongoing struggle.”
New York state has awarded more than $2 million in grant money through the Doctors Across New York program to promote recruitment in underserved regions of the state. But the local effort is focusing specifically on recruitment in the state’s northeastern corner.
“We’ve created a medical foundation to attract medical students — and particularly young people from the four northern counties — by giving them scholarships if, in return, they agree to serve the North Country,” Patel said.
The foundation is primarily interested in supporting medical students who are attending the four SUNY medical colleges in New York and those who plan on entering the medical field as primary-care physicians, he noted.
“We realize that a first-year med student has yet to decide if he or she wants to be a primary-care physician,” he added. “Third-year med students are almost sure about what they want to specialize in, so we prefer to give scholarships to third- or fourth-year med students.”
Foundation members felt it was important to emphasize the four SUNY colleges — Buffalo, Upstate (in Syracuse), Downstate (in Brooklyn) and Stony Brook — since they offer less-expensive tuition that could more easily be met by the scholarship program.