UAMS Student Moriah Hollaway Receives Prominent Award from U.S. Public Health Service

Moriah Hollaway, a senior at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has been selected to receive a 2021 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee.

The national award is given to medical students who are public health champions advancing the U.S. Public Health Service’s (USPHS) mission to “protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation” and who are helping address public health issues in their community.

The award was created by the USPHS to inspire medical students to commit themselves to public health and to become leaders in their field. Each year, every U.S. medical school can nominate one student who has worked hard to increase awareness about health care and put that knowledge into action.

Hollaway, who graduated in May with a dual degree (MD and Master of Public Health) from the UAMS College of Medicine and UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, was selected for this award for her work on the impact of COVID-19 on surgical case volume and finances at UAMS.

From March 17 to June 7, 2020, UAMS temporarily postponed and rescheduled many elective surgeries and procedures because of the pandemic.

Through analysis of data gathered by UAMS during 2020, Hollaway examined surgical postponements and cancellations and the impact of that financially on UAMS. Hollaway completed this work as part of her capstone research project, known as the Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) in the College of Public Health.

Hollaway hypothesized that the mandated elective surgery cessation, along with other COVID-19 related case cancellations, had a substantial economic impact on UAMS. Her findings showed a 16.2% decrease in case volume and a 13.8% decrease in financial charges levied during 2020 on average when compared to 2017-2019. Most case deficits occurred between March and May. 

"We are very proud of Moriah for being recognized with this national public health award. Certainly, the pandemic has taught us the critical importance of public health, and it is so encouraging to see medical students and new physicians also studying for the MPH degree and already making a difference for our communities," said James Graham, MD, UAMS College of Medicine’s executive associate dean for academic affairs.

Originally from Maumelle, Hollaway earned an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Lipscomb University before entering the dual degree program at UAMS.