Tazewell awards scholarship to future primary care physician

Jordan Saunders

by Luanne Rife

The Tazewell Community Foundation has partnered with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to award a scholarship to a student who agrees to return to the region after residency to practice as a primary care physician.

Jordan Saunders, a third-year medical student, who is from Roanoke and attended Virginia Tech, was awarded the first scholarship that will cover a portion of his tuition and living expenses. In exchange, Saunders is committing to practice in the Tazewell Carilion Community Hospital services area for four years.

Chris Wearmouth, president of the Tazewell Community Foundation, said providing high quality health care to county residents is a top priority.

“Having access to primary healthcare results in lower healthcare spending and improved health outcomes. Partnering with VCOM further confirms the Community Foundation’s long-term commitment to the citizens of Tazewell County in providing access to the quality healthcare that they need and deserve,” Wearmouth said in a news release.

Saunders said that award lessens his medical school debt and gives him the opportunity to make a difference in an underserved community.

“Throughout Southwest Virginia there are many small towns and counties without easy access to medical care. During my clinical rotations, I witness first-hand many patients who drive an hour or longer to come to a clinic. My desire to practice rural medicine is to fulfill a real need in the community and to educate the public about the importance of preventive medicine,” he said.

VCOM, founded in Blacksburg in 2001, has branch campuses in South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana. It recruits students from rural and medically underserved areas with the aim of them returning to places that have a shortage of physicians.