New Jersey Medical School launched the Reducing Barriers to Success Scholarship Program, which provides 20 medical students from underserved communities with financial scholarships each year to become primary care physicians in Newark and surrounding towns. A story published by features current medical students Sebastian Acevedo and Angelica Lopez and medical school assistant dean of primary care and community initiatives Ana Natale-Pereira, who discuss the program and their personal and professional experiences in health care.

“Primary care is not just runny noses, earaches, and sore throats. We are dealing with incredibly complex care, particularly in underserved communities,” says Natale-Pereira. “Unfortunately, the shortage of primary care physicians in urban areas forces many residents to seek health care from the emergency department or community health fairs, leaving them with no continuity of care.”

Acevedo discusses his personal experiences helping his mother navigate specialized health care in the United States and Colombia and how that impacted his own academic and career pursuits. Lopez talks about her appreciation for the role of primary care in improving patient outcomes and reducing long-standing racial and ethnic health disparities.

“The main point in going into primary care for me is being able to be the doctor that I wish my family had when I was growing up,” Lopez says.

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