United Health Centers Scholarship to Grow Health Care Workforce

The United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley Foundation presented Fresno State with a $140,000 gift to establish an endowed scholarship for students pursuing careers in the medical field in order to strengthen the university’s ongoing support and education of future health care clinicians.

The Dr. Robert Allen Shankerman Memorial Scholarship honors the former chief medical officer of United Health Centers, who died of COVID-related complications in September 2020. Shankerman, known for his sympathetic spirit and attention to underprivileged areas, was dedicated to training and educating future health care practitioners and physicians.

“For many of our students, a scholarship is their lifeline to completing their degree on time,” said Dr. Denise Seabert, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State. “Through this memorial scholarship at Fresno State, many lives will be undoubtedly impacted – and the ripple effect is even greater. Students who receive the scholarship will become the physicians of the future, serving right here in the Valley.”

United Health Centers, a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center, offers general and family medicine, pediatrics, dentistry, chiropractic care, optometry, and clinical laboratory services among its 30 locations in Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties. Furthermore, the facilities provide Fresno State nursing students a one-of-a-kind clinical experience.

Ashley Bowers, a registered nurse, was working on her master’s degree in nursing when she was selected as part of the first cohort of graduate-level nursing students to engage in a new three-semester clinical rotation with United Health Centers.

“Many nursing students have a hard time finding clinical placements, so it’s really hopeful to know that United Health Centers is wanting to grow their nurse practitioners through Fresno State,” Bowers said. “I had a very positive experience at each of my three clinical sites. The continuity of care the centers provide, especially in rural areas where health care access is limited, and the collaboration I had with other family nurse practitioners and medical doctors is something you can’t get in the classroom.”

Bowers, who graduated from the master’s degree nursing program this past May, said the cohesion and support United Health Centers provided was invaluable as she worked toward becoming a family nurse practitioner.

“As an internal medicine physician, Dr. Shankerman had a unique passion for continuous education which he used to provide the best outcomes for his patients,” said Justin Preas, president and CEO of United Health Centers. “I believe Dr. Shankerman would be very pleased to know that his commitment to serving the underserved in Central California was greatly admired and appreciated by all those who knew him and that a very essential college grant program has been named in his honor. It is with this financial assistance to students who are pursuing their dreams that his legacy may help inspire their commitment as well.”

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