First-of-its-kind scholarship supports improved healthcare access in rural communities and honors University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus and pharmacist Lyle Vandenberg
CHICAGO, MADISON, Wis., and SAN FRANCISCO (February 15, 2023) — Homeward, a company committed to rearchitecting the delivery of health and care in partnership with communities everywhere, starting in rural America, today announced that Homeward General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer Brian Vandenberg has established a new rural health scholarship in partnership with the American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. The Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarship will be awarded annually to students in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Nursing or School of Pharmacy, who demonstrate a commitment to improving health care access and reducing disparities in small towns and rural communities. The rural health scholarship honors Brian Vandenberg’s late father Lyle Vandenberg, a University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy alumnus and community pharmacist who spent over four decades serving Wisconsin residents before passing away in November 2021. Lyle Vandenberg would have turned 88 on February 11, 2023.
A lifelong resident of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, Lyle Vandenberg operated retail pharmacies and provided pharmacy services to community hospitals, assisted living and nursing facilities throughout northeast Wisconsin. Upon returning to Kaukauna in 1960 following graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and United States Army service, Lyle Vandenberg began his career as a registered pharmacist at Look Drug Stores, Inc., which he eventually purchased and then expanded to bring pharmacy services to long-term care facilities in Kaukauna and neighboring rural communities and intravenous therapies to patients in their homes. Kaukauna is a small town located approximately 100 miles north of Milwaukee.
Rural communities face complex health care challenges, including increasing hospital closures, physician shortages and limited access to high-quality care. As a result, those living in rural communities have a 23 percent higher mortality rate, due to an overall lack of access to care. Rural communities also have one-half as many primary care physicians and one-eighth as many specialists as urban areas on a per capita basis, further emphasizing the need for health care professionals in a variety of fields, including pharmacy and nursing. In recognition of the late Lyle Vandenberg’s unwavering commitment to delivering personalized care as a pharmacist in Kaukauna and neighboring rural communities, the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will offer scholarships to medical, nursing and pharmacy students who are likewise committed to providing care in rural areas. The scholarship recognizes the role geographic diversity plays in population health outcomes.
“As a community pharmacist, my Dad encountered the unique health care challenges faced by many residents living in small towns and rural communities,” said Brian Vandenberg, son of Lyle Vandenberg, general counsel and chief administrative officer of Homeward, and former American Medical Association (AMA) general counsel. “He was ahead of his time, bringing new care models to communities to meet their needs in collaboration with physicians, nurses and other providers. It is gratifying to establish the Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarship in partnership with his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the American Medical Association Foundation, as it marries our mission at Homeward to rearchitect the delivery of health and care in partnership with communities everywhere, starting in rural America, and honors my father, who was deeply connected to the local communities where he lived and served.”
The inaugural Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarship recipient is Kara Graves, a University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy student. Graves was raised in a small northern Wisconsin town with fewer than 1,000 residents. Through her upbringing, Graves recognized that pharmacists are often the most accessible and trusted health care professionals in rural areas. This recognition ignited her passion to become a pharmacist and help communities like the one she grew up in.
“I have already found so much happiness and fulfillment in providing care and resources to disadvantaged and rural patients, and I look forward to making an even greater impact once I begin practicing under my license,” said Kara Graves, doctor of pharmacy candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy.
This spring, Graves will begin the year-long Mayo Clinic Health System Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience-Residency Track (APPE-RT) program in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Graves will apply for residency in December 2023, and begin her residency program upon graduation in spring 2024. She plans to continue supporting rural communities throughout her career.
“We are proud to partner with Brian and the American Medical Association Foundation’s Vandenberg Health Equity Fund to honor UW alumnus Lyle Vandenberg, celebrating his legacy as a community pharmacist who dedicated his life to providing quality care to small towns and rural communities throughout Wisconsin,” said Jill Watson, AVP for development with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. “Through this scholarship, we can provide more University of Wisconsin-Madison students the opportunity to shape the future of how health care is delivered in rural communities.”
The Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarship is made possible by Brian Vandenberg and the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund, established through the AMAF Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship Program. To date, the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund has committed more than $700,000 to award scholarships for outstanding medical students who share a common goal of advancing health equity in historically marginalized and minority populations. The addition of the rural health scholarship acknowledges the critical importance of improving health equity across geographically diverse areas alongside those living in marginalized populations and supporting health professionals of various fields, training and experience. Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarships awarded to medical school students will be underwritten by the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund at the AMAF.
“On behalf of everyone at the AMAF, we are incredibly grateful to Brian for forming a new scholarship dedicated to supporting students who will serve as future care providers in rural communities,” said William Sternfeld, MD, FACS, president of the AMAF Board of Directors. “We are honored that Brian continues to use the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund as a vehicle to provide additional opportunities for aspiring physicians, and always through a lens focused on equity.”
In addition to the new rural health scholarship, the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund currently supports the following medical school scholarships:
- David Jones Peck MD Health Equity Scholarship, established in 2018, and awarded annually to medical students who demonstrate a commitment to addressing health disparities and promoting health equity in marginalized and minoritized communities.
- Native American Center for Health Professions Scholarship for Advancing Health Equity, established in 2020, and awarded annually with preference given to medical students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health who are members of a federally or state-recognized Native American tribe and/or who demonstrate a commitment to address health disparities that impact Native American populations.
- DREAM MD Equity Scholarship, established in 2020, and awarded annually to a medical student beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and/or a first-generation immigrant to the United States who demonstrates a commitment to public advocacy for the equitable treatment of immigrants.
Homeward is rearchitecting rural health and care for the 60 million Americans living in rural communities. As a new value-based care provider, Homeward employs multidisciplinary care teams, available in-home, within the community, and virtually, with technology to better connect patients to high-quality, affordable and comprehensive care. The company supports Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, including by partnering with Medicare Advantage plans, and takes full risk for the cost of care of its members to improve outcomes and reduce costs. For more information, please visit www.homewardhealth.com.
About American Medical Association Foundation
Since 1950, the AMA Foundation has been a leader in health care philanthropy with programs that advance public health and medical education. As the philanthropic arm of the world’s largest physician organization, the AMA Foundation has awarded more than $122 million in grants and scholarships, demonstrating nationwide programmatic excellence.
About Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association
The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It brings together alumni and friends of the university to raise, invest, and distribute funds, and it connects a growing number of Badgers to help facilitate their support for each other and the university. For more information, please visit supportuw.org or uwalumni.com.
NOTE: The original press release announcing the Lyle L. Vandenberg Rural Health Scholarship was distributed by Homeward. It has been updated to reflect the AMA’s branding and style standards.