Boosting Rural Medicine Through Scholarship Support and Mentorship
Adjunct alumnus jumps at the chance to teach future physicians, despite being 2,000 miles from the University of Idaho.
For Dr. Byron Elliott ’81, who practices maternal and fetal medicine in Austin, Texas, giving back goes beyond providing scholarship support to Idaho WWAMI students. Driven by his passion for advancing rural medicine, giving back also takes the form of working directly with Idaho WWAMI to prepare future doctors to practice in underserved areas of Idaho.
In fall 2020, Dr. Elliott began sharing his clinical expertise as a guest lecturer for Idaho WWAMI on the subjects of genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis, and ultrasound.
“Though I have not practiced medicine in Idaho nor lived there since I was an undergraduate, I jumped at the opportunity to teach future physicians at the University of Idaho,” he said.
Despite being 2,000 miles away, Dr. Elliott feels a connection to U of I, in part due to the mentorship he received at the university. As an undergraduate studying zoology, he benefitted from the mentorship of faculty members and his academic advisor Bruce Pitman ’75 ‘89, who would go on to serve as dean of students for 34 years.
The mentoring support he received both as an undergraduate and a medical student at Tulane University helped prepare him for a successful career in medicine.
The mentor/mentee relationship in the medical field is a very nurturing system. I want to support that wholeheartedly and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to become an adjunct faculty for WWAMI.
As an adjunct and mentor, Dr. Elliott enjoys directly investing in Idaho WWAMI students’ education with the goal of producing capable doctors for rural or underserved areas throughout Idaho. At the same time, Dr. Elliott continues to support Idaho WWAMI students by giving to scholarships.
“Everyone who has gone through the expense of medical school wants to defray that for students upfront,” he said. “I want to help students at a time when they have no income and huge expenses.”
Central to Dr. Elliott’s commitment to Idaho WWAMI is the program’s importance for the state.
"Communities in Idaho are in need of physician support. WWAMI students who come to learn here will stay in the region and Idaho WWAMI-supported programs, like Project ECHO, help providers anywhere in Idaho gain access to specialists and resources they can use in their clinics."
Published October 2020
Article by Joshua Nishimoto, University Advancement