Minority and underrepresented scholarship programs

Photo of 4 scholarship winners

Health Equity and Leadership Scholars Program

The Health Equity and Leadership Scholars Program (HEAL) is an initiative designed to encourage diversity in the physician workforce in Grand Rapids, Michigan by providing scholarships for resident physicians from underrepresented minority backgrounds.

HEAL scholars pursue a health equity project involving leadership, advocacy, scholarship, and/or community engagement. Each scholar is paired with a Spectrum Health and Kent County Health Department faculty mentor. Scholars also serve as a mentor for a medical student from an underrepresented background.

Each academic year, two resident physicians are accepted into the program. HEAL Scholars receive a $10,000 scholarship their first year and a $5,000 scholarship each year thereafter throughout residency. Upon graduation, HEAL scholars may be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 if they choose to stay and practice in West Michigan and Spectrum Health.


  • Scholars must be enrolled in one of Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine 3-year primary care residency programs (pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine) or the emergency medicine residency program. 
  • Scholars must be from an underrepresented minority background (African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander)

How to Apply

Applications are accepted each year after Match Day and until May 1. To apply, complete the application form and email to residentdiversity@spectrumhealth.org.

Congratulations to the 2023-2024 Health Equity and Leadership Scholars!

Tishanna Ferguson, MD


Tishanna N. Ferguson, MD was born and raised in Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University and worked as a Surgical Critical Care Technician at Spectrum Health prior to attending Ross University School of Medicine. She is currently an OB-GYN resident at Corewell Health. She is passionate about advocacy for marginalized and underrepresented patient populations. Her goal is to motivate, educate and uplift patients while providing exceptional care to our community.

HEAL Scholar Tajuldeen Al-Hasani
HEAL scholar Tishanna Ferguson

Tajuldeen Al-Hasani, MD

Internal Medicine

Tajuldeen Al-Hasani, MD attended medical school at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and is a first-year internal medicine resident. Dr. Al-Hasani believes that everyone deserves equal access to health care. He advocates for a health care system that is inclusive, intersectional and free from biases – both conscious and unconscious – and always strives to reflect the diversity and intersectionality of our community.

2022-2023 HEAL Scholars
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Antonia Fomunyam-Nyongabsen, MD

Internal Medicine

My experience as a HEAL scholar has been nothing short of exceptional. As I journey through residency, I always think about “My Why” and this opportunity reminds me of the reason I chose medicine. It has given me the ability to immerse myself in experiences like the NAACP Grand Rapids chapter, have amazing mentors that support my vision of serving the refugee community of Grand Rapids and finding ways to improve access to health care. Being a first-generation immigrant who moved to the U.S.A at 18 years old, it has always been a goal of mine to serve a community that dealt with the same culture shock I faced when I initially immigrated. Above everything, as a black woman in medicine, I have felt seen and supported by mentors such as Dr. Candace Smith-King and Dr. Nirali Bora. My co-scholars and I are involved in several projects that align with our interests, made possible by the entire HEAL team. If you qualify for this opportunity and are on the fence about applying, please pick up that computer and apply. You will not regret it!

Janene Berli, MD

Internal Medicine

It has been an inspiring time to get involved in local health equity efforts with the recent development of the Kent County Health Equity Council. It is encouraging to see representatives from local businesses, non-profit organizations, health systems and more gathering together to rally in an effort to make our communities healthier with current focus on the mental health. I have the privilege of participating in an action team focused specifically on decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health care. I also look forward to partnering with local groups working on harm reduction strategies, especially when it comes to substance use, as it is a personal passion of mine. I appreciate that Drs. Bora and Smith-King get to know us as individuals and design elements of the curriculum to be able to get us involved in the areas we are most passionate about. It has been empowering to be able to carve out space and time to spend on such efforts amongst the grind of intern year and residency.

2021-2022 HEAL Scholars
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Antonio Castaneda, MD

Internal Medicine

I am an internal medicine resident. I graduated from MSU college of human medicine and completed my undergraduate degree in anthropology from The University of Montana and BSN from Pace University in New York. Prior to working as a nurse, I worked as an addiction counselor. When I am outside the hospital, I enjoy cooking vegan recipes and the occasional home renovation project.

Jason Wanamaker, MD

Emergency Medicine

I am incredibly thankful for my experience with the HEAL Scholars program. While it provides a comprehensive overview of public health obstacles and social determinants of health present in any part of this country, it also quickly helped me become familiarized with my new home in Grand Rapids, MI. I know that I am gaining valuable knowledge about how I will fight against health care disparities throughout my career while also making me feel so much more connected to the community that I am fortunate enough to serve for my three years of training. I feel so lucky to have been a part of this program and I can't wait to see how much it builds moving forward!

Minority Visiting Scholars Program

Program overview

The Minority Visiting Scholars Program (MVSP) is sponsored by the Spectrum Health Office of Research and Education as a supplement to our visiting learner program for medical students. MVSP is a specialized away rotation that provides mentoring and networking for fourth year and qualified third year medical students who are underrepresented in medicine, including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+-identified and gender nonconforming individuals, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with disabilities.

The mission of MVSP is to enrich medical education, advance research and strengthen clinical care by fostering equity in opportunities. Spectrum Health is committed to creating a graduate medical education space that is inclusive, intersectional and free from bias – both conscious and unconscious. We strive to recruit a resident class that reflects the diversity and intersectionality of our community.


  • Up to $1,500 scholarship awarded to MVSP scholars, including reimbursement for housing, travel and expenses associated with participating in the learning program. MVSP scholars who complete their rotation will be reimbursed at the end of the rotation. Incurred expenses for travel and other associated expense receipts and MVSP program evaluation must be submitted to residentdiversity@spectrumhealth.org within 30 days of rotation completion.
  • Includes a four-week rotation on clinical shifts, didactics and simulation with attending physicians and resident physicians.
  • MVSP scholars will have the opportunity to attend all residency educational activities.
  • Mentoring opportunities from faculty member in specialty of interest.
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Applicants must be full-time fourth year medical students who are from an underrepresented group (including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+-identified and gender nonconforming individuals, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with disabilities) and are in good standing at a LCME-accredited U.S. medical school. Third year students who have completed their core clerkships in medicine, surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics may also apply.

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Selected scholars may elect to secure housing through our partnership with Grand Valley State University. Housing is based on availability and will be deducted from the scholarship. If no availability, scholars will be responsible for securing housing. Contact residentdiversity@spectrumhealth.org if you would like to seek housing through our partnership.

The following amenities are included:

  • Fully furnished apartments with kitchenette and wireless internet connection
  • Free parking in adjacent parking lot
  • On-site laundry, exercise center and 24-hour public safety and on call emergency
  • Located on The Rapid bus line and walking distance to restaurants, museums and more
Mentoring and networking
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MVSP scholars are assigned a faculty advisor and provided with opportunities to network with Spectrum Health faculty, attending physicians, residents, fellows and staff. Mentoring and networking is designed to:

  • Increase awareness of opportunities in academic and community medicine
  • Provide access to our diverse workforce and professional relationship-building
  • Offer exposure to the residency and fellowship programs available at Spectrum Health
How to apply
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Applications for 2023 are now closed.

Applications for the Minority Visiting Scholars Program can be submitted starting April 1 for the next academic year starting in July. MVSP applications will be accepted through June 1. Notification of student's application status will be provided via email within three weeks of receiving the application.

The application process requires two separate applications, the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities application, which allows students to register for an elective at Spectrum Health, and the MVSP application which awards the financial support.

  1. Complete the VSLO application and upload all required documents
  2. Complete the Spectrum Health MVSP application and email completed application and CV to residentdiversity@spectrumhealth.org

All visiting medical student applications must be submitted through the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities program. Applications should be submitted at least three months (90 days) prior to the student’s requested rotation.

The application timeline mirrors the timing for the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities program. VSLO applications are accepted for approximately one year, depending on availability, and will close completely when the next VSLO application cycle opens. VSLO is always available to view electives beginning March 1 of each year.

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