University of Charleston

University of Charleston

Through a Community Investment Grant, UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia will help house Physician Assistant students doing rural rotations and provide professional development opportunities for health sciences students.

The grant, created to reduce barriers to education and promote health equity in West Virginia’s rural communities, provides $60,000 to two important UC programs.  The largest portion of the grant – $50,000 – will help UC Physician Assistant Program students cover the cost of their housing during clinical rotations in rural areas, enabling these students to bring much-needed healthcare to remote areas of the state.

“At UniCare, we are dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders in their journey to transform the healthcare landscape, ensuring the well-being of all communities across West Virginia, regardless of their location,” said Tadd Haynes, President, UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia. “Through housing support, we remove a substantial barrier that often limits students from exploring opportunities outside urban centers. We envision a future where these students emerge as the cornerstone of local healthcare, creating a lasting impact within their communities and significantly contributing to areas in need.”

Michelle Riffe, UC Director of Clinical Education, explained further, saying, “Our program emphasizes service to the underserved populations in rural areas of WV. Each student is required to complete at least 2 clinical rotations in a rural setting in WV. To access these sites, students require housing facilities in the local community, and this donation will help them be able to serve those communities without incurring housing costs. “

The $10,000 remainder of the funding will be used for Healthcare Interprofessional Education (HIPE) Week programming. HIPE Week brings together students from the university’s nursing, PA, pharmacy, and other health sciences programs to give them experience working in teams from different disciplines, as they would in a professional setting. This gives them important “real world” experience. This year’s HIPE event will take place in September.

UniCare is based in Charleston and offers a variety of plans to help people create benefit solutions to meet their needs.  In West Virginia, it serves Mountain Health Trust, West Virginia Health Bridge Medicaid, and WV CHIP members.