UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL STUDENT RECEIVES $10,000 AMA FOUNDATION AWARD
Minority scholarships bestowed upon just 10 students nationwide 

June 28, 2006 

WORCESTER, Mass. - Recognized for her passion to care for underserved populations in urban environments, University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) student April Inniss, 23, has been awarded a prestigious $10,000 Minority Scholars Award from the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. A Boston native and second-year student at the School of Medicine, Inniss is one of just 10 medical students nationwide to receive this honor in acknowledgement of her excellence as a medical student and outstanding promise for a future career in medicine. 

"I am incredibly humbled that the AMA has expressed this level of confidence in me," said Inniss. "It lets me know I'm doing the right thing. I am compelled to reach my goals and become the best physician I can." 

"We are pleased to see April Inniss, a student who truly embodies the spirit of UMMS, receive this prestigious award from the AMA Foundation," said Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare. "Through her public service and research, she has proven herself a leader in community health initiatives, and we will continue to encourage her as she fulfills her desire to practice medicine and improve racial and ethnic health disparities in the Commonwealth's underserved, urban areas." 

The Minority Scholars Award recognizes scholastic achievement and promise for the future among students in groups defined as "historically underrepresented" in the medical profession. According to the AMA Foundation, less than 7 percent of U.S. physicians fall within these groups, which include African-American/Black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino. The Minority Scholars Awards are given in collaboration with the AMA Minority Affairs Consortium, with support from the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative. 

"The AMA Foundation is committed to introducing more minorities into the medical profession in order to better reflect the needs of our diverse society. We must ensure the cost of medical education remains within reach of our most talented students," said AMA Foundation President Peter Carmel, MD. "We are pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of April Inniss, and to provide her with substantial financial assistance for medical school." 

Inniss, who is African-American, is dedicated to serving others by improving healthcare in urban environments. From personal experience and as a teenager volunteering for the Boston Public Health Commission Reach 2010 Program, she observed racial and ethnic health disparities and chose to move forward to change the inequalities she viewed in healthcare. 

"I want to serve the underserved populations-people who are normally neglected and marginalized in the health care system. Medicine is a great venue for me to take action," said Inniss. 

Inniss graduated from Brown University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in urban studies. Combining her interests in medicine, health disparities and urban affairs, she developed a unique framework, which she applied to study systemic forces shaping racial health disparities and to examine models of health social movements as potential vehicles for change.  While at Brown, Inniss spearheaded two health initiatives in her own Boston neighborhood of Mattapan-The Children's Project and The Mattapan Walking Club. Through educational games and theater productions, Inniss taught neighborhood children the fundamentals of good nutrition. She also motivated her neighbors to get out and exercise with The Mattapan Walking Club; she understood the lower levels of physical activity in her community were linked to the lack of safe and adequate outdoor recreational areas. She, and members of the club, provided their neighbors an opportunity to exercise by marking safe areas for a group walk. 

"Both my personal and professional experiences have supplied me with a rich context for my work in developing activities as well as cultivating a sense of agency and empowerment within the community," said Inniss. "I am a firm believer in the power of communities to effectively tackle the issues that affect them." 

Seeing the changes in her community from her involvement strengthened Inniss's desire to practice medicine in an urban environment and care for underserved patient populations. Upon graduation from UMMS, she intends to practice medicine-pediatrics or general internal medicine. She visualizes the establishment of a free-care clinic and working with existing grassroots organizations to build the needed political will to push for policies to improve healthcare for all. 

"Healing is more than what takes place in the immediate patient-care setting," said Inniss. "It incorporates advocacy and activism on behalf of the underserved, who are all too often ignored. Whatever the precise outcome of my future plans, I am certain that they will reflect and vigorously uphold this ideal." 

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About AMA Foundation
The AMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Medical Association, has made a priority of helping medical students handle the rising cost of their education. On average, future physicians graduate approximately $120,000 in debt, and in many cases the debt load is much higher. Since its founding in 1950, the AMA Foundation has contributed more than $90 million in educational, research and public health grants.
 

About UMMS
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, a perennial top finisher in the annual U.S.News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, was founded to meet the health care needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth by providing residents an affordable, accessible, comprehensive and rewarding medical education of the highest quality. The school is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector and in underserved areas of Massachusetts. UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service. 

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Contact: Nicole Soucy, 508-856-2000, ummsnews@umassmed.edu