Medical College of Wisconsin Medical School Medical School

MCW School of Medicine Announces New Health Equity Scholars Program

The Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine is proud to announce the new Health Equity Scholars Program (HESP), a health equity training track within the MD program, aimed at addressing health and health care disparities in Wisconsin and the persistent underrepresentation of certain racial and ethnic groups among medical students, medical trainees, and physicians.
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Why is HESP Important?

HESP was conceived of and designed in response to the state of Wisconsin’s shortage of physicians and to the persistent underrepresentation of marginalized racial and ethnic groups among current and future physicians. Our mission is to support medical and health equity training while assisting to reduce the cost associated with your training experience and empowering you to thrive in medical school and beyond.

HESP Key Elements

This 4-year-long, integrated, longitudinal program will use a “place-based education” approach to train a diverse cohort of medical students to advance health.
Financial Support

Financial Support

All HESP Scholars will receive a full tuition scholarship to MCW-Milwaukee.
Health Equity Training

Health Equity Training

All HESP Scholars will be trained to expertly care for and serve marginalized groups in Milwaukee communities through the fostering of connection to place and a sense of belonging, first-hand knowledge of physical and recreational assets of these communities, and the development of social networks.
Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial support involves learning to navigate the challenging experiences and systems that we experience directly and vicariously as individuals, communities, and organizations, and learning the daily practices needed to have a sustainable and joyful career in medicine.
Living-Learning Community

Living-Learning Community

HESP scholars will have the opportunity to live in one of the new apartments in the ThriveOn King building in the Bronzeville area of Milwaukee. HESP will also be housed at the ThriveOn King office building. This arrangement will support HESP’s place-based educational approach, equipping HESP scholars to merge their lived and practical learning experiences when counseling patients, connecting them to appropriate resources that are considerate of their patients’ membership in diverse cultural, ethnic, and social groups.


We are looking for applicants who have a demonstrable interest in addressing health care disparities and will support these students’ growth into physician-leaders who can transform healthcare alongside the Milwaukee communities in which they serve.

To be eligible for HESP, you must:

*The MCW HESP Program has has no influence on which applicants are accepted into the School of Medicine and operates as a separate health equity program


HESP is a training track within the MCW-Milwaukee’s School of Medicine Regular MD program. Acceptance into HESP is contingent upon acceptance into the MCW-Milwaukee School of Medicine (SOM). If you are accepted to MCW-Milwaukee SOM and meet the eligibility criteria for HESP, you will be invited to apply for HESP via email.

A select number of HESP applicants who submit the written HESP application will be invited for a virtual interview. All invitations to interview for HESP will be sent via email. Selection factors for HESP include the HESP written application, experiences, interest in and aptitude for health equity work, and the personal interview.

Helpful Information

-Submit your primary application through AMCAS and choose the Regular MD program
-On the secondary application, designate MCW-Milwaukee as your campus preference
-Applicants who are accepted into the MCW-Milwaukee SOM and meet HESP eligibility requirements will receive an additional application for HESP via email
-Interviews for HESP will take place virtually and will be granted to eligible applicants who have been accepted into the MCW-Milwaukee School of Medicine and have completed the HESP written application

Note: You are strongly advised to apply and complete your primary and secondary applications early

Meet Our Planning Team

The HESP Planning Team: HESP was implemented following a year-long needs assessment and design process conducted by an dedicated, experienced, and creative team of MCW faculty, staff, and students and leaders from the Milwaukee community who have expertise in the city’s needs and who are heavily invested in its growth and thriving. The needs assessment included key stakeholder interviews, focus groups with URIM students at MCW, and a comprehensive literature review. The resulting design of HESP reflects a collaborative, placed-based approach to teaching and learning health equity.


Genyne Edwards, JD

Founder & Partner, P3 Development Group


Cassie Ferguson, MD

Associate Director, Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education; Director, Student Pillar, Kern Institute


Michael Levas, MD, MS

Professor of Pediatrics; Director of Social Medicine, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine; Medical Director, Project Ujima; Associate Director, Comprehensive Injury Center


Jane Machi, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Member, Student Pillar, Kern Institute


Joshua Parish, NRP, MSc, MPH

Assistant Chief - EMS, Training, & Education City of Milwaukee Fire Department


Devarati Syam, PhD

Program Manager, Student and GME Pillars, Kern Institute


Omar Syed

M4, Medical College of Wisconsin


Suma Thareja

Postdoctoral Fellow


Egal Warsame

Second-Year MCW Medical Student; MPS Graduate


Please reach out to:

Dr. Cassie Ferguson, Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Director of the Student Pillar, Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education (
Dr. Devarati Syam, HESP Program Manager (

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The Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education

The MCW Health Equity Scholars Program—was conceived in partnership between the Kern Institute and leaders from the Milwaukee community. MCW established the [MCW Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education (KI)] in 2017, with a transformational gift from the Kern Family Foundation and Kern Family Trust. The KI emphasizes caring, character, and excellence to better prepare medical students for the challenge of our rapidly evolving 21st century healthcare environment. Since its founding, the KI has launched several programs aimed at advancing health equity, including a holistic admissions initiative to increase the diversity of the medical student body by identifying applicants with unique character and caring capacities; a collaborative effort aimed at streamlining the application process to MCW’s outreach and pathway programs to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science; and an annual summit focused on advancing equity in the health care learning environment.
Learn More About the Kern Institute