MEDEX Northwest has established several in-house scholarship funds with an emphasis on primary care, a focus on the medically underserved, and leadership potential.  One is focused on emergency medicine. An announcement to first-year didactic students in Fall quarter invites students to apply for these scholarships. Scholarships are awarded at the April MEDEX Alumni Reception & Awards Ceremony in SeaTac, WA. This annual event coincides with the Western Washington meeting of the Washington Academy of Physician Assistants (WAPA).  Students must be currently enrolled to be eligible to apply.

Richard Smith Scholarship

Dick Smith Dr. Smith founded the MEDEX program as a federal demonstration project in the late 1960s.  He hoped to increase the pool of clinicians in underserved settings by drawing on the extensive skills of returning military medics and corpsmen.  After ensuring the success of MEDEX, he went on to develop and deliver materials to facilitate the training of health workers in developing countries; materials that have been adapted and used in over 70 countries.  His strong leadership skills allowed him to put his vision into practice.  Richard Smith Scholarship awards are offered annually at each MEDEX campus. These awards go to potential leaders; visionaries with a commitment to increasing access to healthcare for the underserved.  Applicants should have a broad and global perspective on healthcare issues.  These are usually awarded to first-year students, but clinical-phase students will be considered as well.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Melanie Beale, Anchorage 12 Nasheed Burgess, Seattle 54 Anson Woodring, Seattle 53 Joseph Starzl, Seattle 51
Angela Polu, Kona 2 Jacob Price, Spokane 24 Collin Randall, Spokane 23 Lauren Trew, Spokane 22
 Ted Parker, Seattle 55 Kelsey Miller, Anchorage 11 Olivia Gregg, Anchorage 11 Linnea Robinson, Tacoma 5
Vera Guadalupe Martinez, Spokane 25 Carolina Breed, Tacoma 8 Katharine Ishida, Tacoma 7 Andrew Baber, Anchorage 10
David Seal, Tacoma 9 Elizabeth Jiminez, Kona 1    

Susan Vader Scholarship

Susan Vader Sue graduated with MEDEX Class 27 and worked for several years with the Whidbey Community Physicians group. After Sue passed away, the clinic and her family (which includes MEDEX faculty member Kira Vader) established a scholarship fund. Sue loved life and family, and cared deeply about patients and the medical field. Applicants must have an interest in family practice or women’s issues. Applicants should also have a broad perspective on life. This is open to both first- and second-year students.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Jungsheng Su, Seattle 55 Aileen Boyle, Seattle 54 Erin Kendall, Seattle 53 Haley Fuchs, Seattle 51

Mike Merrill Scholarship

Mike Merril Mike graduated with MEDEX Class 26 and worked in the ER at Group Health. After Mike passed away, his family and friends established an endowed scholarship fund to support students interested in a career in emergency medicine. Mike was dedicated to his work, and a high level of professionalism was a hallmark of his daily practice. A focus on caring and compassionate customer service was very important to him, as was collaborative teamwork. Applicants should demonstrate intelligence, curiosity and kindness and have an interest in education. This award is open to second-year students planning to enter practice in emergency medicine.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Laura Noyes (Hudecek), Spokane 24 Nolan Ryan, Seattle 53 Richard Yeager, Anchorage 10 Alex Pellman, Seattle 51

Barbara Gunter-Flynn Scholarship

Barbara Gunter-Flynn2 Barb graduated from MEDEX in 1979. She was a PA with a commitment to expanding healthcare access for the medically underserved. She helped launch the MEDEX Yakima campus, and after a few years moved on to launch the MEDEX Spokane campus. Her dedication inspired many MEDEX graduates from central and eastern Washington. Barb passed away in 2002 after a courageous battle with cancer. The Barbara Gunter-Flynn Scholarship will be awarded to a student from the Spokane campus. The awards committee will look for a student who is inspirational with a commitment to service of the medically underserved. This is usually awarded to a first-year student, but clinical phase students will be considered as well.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Seamus Burke, Spokane 24 Mason Vegas, Spokane 23 Zachary Pollock, Spokane 23 Annan Sheffield, Spokane 22

Jennifer Johnston Scholarship

Photo of Jennifer JohnstonJennifer Johnston was the program Administrator and Admissions Director at MEDEX for 30 years. Hundreds of MEDEX graduates remember the day that Jennifer called with an offer of admission. Jennifer believed strongly in the MEDEX mission, and as a former teacher, was especially happy to see students from disadvantaged circumstances succeed despite facing many challenges along the way. This scholarship will recognize students who have demonstrated tenacity to overcome life’s hurdles, and the commitment and perseverance necessary to rise above significant obstacles on the pathway to becoming physician assistants.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Hannah Moore, Kona 2 Sinrita Pratap, Kona 1 Tuyen Nguyen, Seattle 53 Sara Toppin, Tacoma 6

Liza Benson Scholarship

photo of Liza Benson Elizabeth (Liza) Benson joined MEDEX with Seattle Class 45. She returned to Wyoming during her second year for clinical rotations but was lost in a skiing accident involving an avalanche. She had worked with a small-town orthopedics practice prior to PA school and looked forward to becoming a rural PA after graduation. Liza was admired for her adventurous spirit, sharp intellect and compassion for others. Her passion for the wilderness can be expressed through her favorite John Muir quotation: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” This scholarship will recognize a MEDEX student who shares Liza’s spirit of adventure, and who plans to practice in a wilderness or rural setting within the WWAMI region.

2022 2021 2020 2019
Morgan Whitfield, Anchorage 12 Katelyn Stearns, Anchorage 11 Michaela Etherton, Seattle 53 Heidi Youmans, Spokane 22

Christopher A. Heim Memorial Student Support Fund

Photo of Chris Heim Chris Heim entered the MEDEX program after 23 years of service in the U.S. Army as an 18D Special Forces medic. He was a member of MEDEX Seattle Class 41 graduating in 2009. With a promising civilian PA career in place, Chris helped establish a medical practice in San Antonio, Texas. Tragically, Chris died in a motorcycle accident in August 2015. In his memory, this award recognizes an outstanding military veteran among the current MEDEX student cohort.

2022 2021 2020 2019
James Mayes, Tacoma 8 Bridgette Zuckerman, Seattle 53 Nicholas DiChiara, Seattle 53 Chris Hilton, Seattle 52

Ruth Ballweg Endowed Fund for Leadership in MEDEX

For 29 years, Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA-C Emeritus and Professor Emeritus in the UW Department of Family Medicine, served as the Program Director of MEDEX Northwest and oversaw the expansion of campuses to Spokane, Yakima, Alaska, and Tacoma. Ruth continued to consult with PA programs nationally and internationally. In 2017, she created the Endowed Fund for Leadership to support current MEDEX students in their development of leadership roles within the profession. As physician assistants assume greater influence in healthcare, there is a seat at the table in administration, management, and advocacy. One way to start is for leadership-minded students to attend the annual American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) conference in May, or similar one-time conferences as they become available. This fund will pay $500 annually to a student from each MEDEX campus to cover expenses including travel. The fund is open to both first-year and second-year students.

2022 2021  2020  2019 
Thomas Brieske, Anchorage 13 Alexandria Lahdya, Seattle 53  Madison Green, Tacoma 7  (in development)
Daniella deKervor, Kona 2      
 Ashmi Chakraborty, Seattle 55      
Elizabeth Boudreau, Tacoma 9      

Other scholarship information can be found on many websites, and most public libraries maintain lists of educational scholarships and loans in their reference areas. There are links to various scholarships and lists of available scholarships on the UW Office of Student Financial Aid website and through the UW Scholarship office. Look for the websites that are free and do not require registration fees unless that is something you choose to do. 

To make the search for scholarship opportunities easier, MEDEX has compiled a list of opportunities. The list is expansive and includes many scholarships meant for physician assistant students and healthcare workers. Please visit each website to view the most up-to-date opportunities available. 

Professional associations also offer scholarships to currently enrolled PA students who meet certain criteria. WAPA, the American Academy of Physician Assistants Veterans Caucus and the Physician Assistant Foundation sponsor just a few of these awards annually.  

WAPA Scholarship


The Washington Academy of Physician Assistants offers annual scholarships to current WAPA members in good standing who are attending an accredited Washington State PA program.  Applicants must submit a narrative explaining why they chose the PA profession, how they plan to be involved with WAPA in the future, current involvement in the community and how the scholarship would benefit them.  Students will apply to this scholarship annually in November, and it will be awarded at the WAPA conference in January.

WAPA Veterans Scholarship

WAPA Veterans Logo

The Washington Academy of Physician Assistants offers annual scholarships to veterans who are current WAPA members in good standing and who currently attend an accredited Washington State PA program.  Applicants must submit a narrative explaining why they chose the PA profession, how they plan to be involved with WAPA in the future, current involvement in the community and how the scholarship would benefit them.  Students will apply to this scholarship annually in November, and it will be awarded at the WAPA conference in January.

Physician Assistant Foundation Scholarship

PA Foundation

Over the years, the Physician Assistant Foundation has awarded $1 million in scholarships to physician assistant students, benefiting more than 1,300 future PAs. A student member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants who is attending an ARC-PA-accredited PA program and is in the didactic or clinical professional phase of the program is eligible to apply. Scholarships are awarded based on the availability of funds provided through contributions from AAPA members, other individuals, and corporate partners.

Veterans Caucus Scholarships

Veterans Caucus

The Veterans Caucus Scholarship of the American Academy of Physician Assistants offers a scholarship program designed to help support eligible PA students in their quest to complete PA training in one of the ARC-PA accredited programs across the United States. Through the generous contributions of our many friends and sponsors, the Caucus is able to provide a portion of the funds needed in this intensive educational process.  The scholarships are awarded based on written objective criteria to include military honors and awards, academic and scholastic honors and awards, civic, community, church, and school activities, professional memberships and activities, student potential for future achievement as provided by the student’s program director, and grade point average.

Pat Tillman Scholarship

Tillman Logo

The online application to become a Tillman Military Scholar is open from February 7, 2014 – March 6, 2014. Veteran and active duty military service members— as well as current spouses of active or veteran service members— that are seeking assistance to pursue an undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degree as a fulltime student at a US based accredited institution are eligible to apply to become a Tillman Military Scholar.

Applicants represent a rich and diverse set of backgrounds, experiences and ambitions and are selected based on strong leadership and a drive to make a positive impact on others through service.