By Tina Shelton
University of Hawaiʻi medical student Carrie Ip, a native of Keaʻau on Hawaiʻi Island, has been awarded a prestigious, highly competitive National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship. She is one of only 205 U.S. medical students to receive the scholarship which was sought by 2,275 applicants in 2016. The scholarship, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Bureau of Health Workforce pays tuition, fees, other educational costs, and provides a living stipend in return for a commitment to work at least two years at an NHSC-approved site in a medically underserved community.
Ip is a 2011 graduate of Waiākea High School in Hilo, and received her undergraduate degree in Biology (with minors in Chemistry and English) from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. She says she was motivated to study medicine by witnessing how those from different social or economic backgrounds suffer from a lack of routine access to health care.
“Growing up, I have realized how important primary care is from a preventative standpoint. I would like to have a part in the continuous care of my future patients,” said Ip. “Many of my family and friends have been affected by the lack of access to healthcare and resources — not having a Primary Care Physician or having to fly to and from Honolulu or the U.S. Mainland to receive adequate care. I believe they deserve better and I would like to give back to a community that I love and call home.”
Ip entered the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) through the ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program in 2015-2016. The ‘Imi program accepts up to 12 aspiring physicians per year for an intensive immersion in learning the skills necessary to become a successful MD student. Many of those accepted into the ʻImi program are from underserved or disadvantaged backgrounds. By completing the program – which participants universally described as grueling – Ip earned admission into the MD Class of 2020, which began its studies in July 2016. She is scheduled to graduate from JABSOM in 2020 and plans to complete her training as a primary care physician and return to her home community on Hawaiʻi Island.
Ip said she loves both the sciences and community service, which are additional reasons she pursued medicine. “I would like to give back to my home community,” said Ip. “I am lucky to have so many great influences and mentors in my life, and my family and loved ones are my biggest supporters and the ones who inspire me to succeed in medical school.” Carrie’s parents are Amy and Teddy Ip of Keaʻau.
Financial support through scholarships or awards also has made a critical difference in Ip’s life, and she is grateful.
“I would not be where I am today without (it),” she said. “Because of the financial support, I am able to focus on my studies without having to worry about how I am going to pay for rent, food, or other necessities.”