The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.
With graduation behind them, high school and college students in Sonoma County are celebrating their achievements and looking forward to the next phase of their education. For students pursuing careers in health care, that next phase may include receiving a Health Careers Scholarship to help pay for their education.
Since 1965, SCMA and the SCMA Alliance have awarded Health Careers Scholarships to students with exceptional academic records and proven financial needs. The scholarships help cover some of the cost of their health-related education. As part of the application process, each candidate is asked to convey their personal motivation for pursuing a future in health care. Each of these detailed and moving descriptions have at their core not only how the student has developed their desire to care for others, but also how to influence and shape our next generation of health care professionals.
Brianna Hitman, a recipient of the Health Careers Scholarship for the past two years, discovered that developing a passion was an important component in understanding what career path she would take. This 2007 El Molino High School graduate was in her teens when the notion of caring for others took on a significant meaning in her life. “My epiphany came when I was playing in a soccer tournament,” she recalls. “One of the opposing players hurt her ankle, and my coach, who was a medical doctor, ran over to assist the injured athlete.”
The actions of that physician inspired Brianna to “have the knowledge to aid another’s physical needs.” She decided to focus on physical therapy and developed a true passion for that field—all because of her coach’s seemingly simple action. “Being in a physical therapy clinic for the first time was complete affirmation that everything I thought about the profession was true,” she explains. Her eyes were opened to the healing, motivating and coaching that therapists provide. This August, she will be graduating from University of the Pacific with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.
For Sahar Rosenblum, currently a junior at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, his mother’s words of wisdom prompted him to consider medicine as a career. “A patient’s emotional needs are equally important to their physical needs,” she told him from an early age. As an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal specialist, she shared her perspective about the qualities physicians should display. Her message to her son asserted that “a patient’s physical needs were paramount. However, only by displaying compassion, empathy and genuine caring, could a physician be considered a great healer.”
Being presented with such a perspective brought this 2005 graduate of Cardinal Newman High School to consider how he could fulfill this ideal view of a physician as he entered college. “I yearned to observe my mother’s philosophy in action, and to see if I possessed the motivation and enthusiasm for a life in medicine,” Sahar recalls. Positive experiences in clinical settings have deepened his commitment to honoring both the mental and physical aspects of patient care as he forges his path to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He has been awarded the Health Careers Scholarship for the past two years.
The next generation of health care professionals is prepared to be influenced. Let us work together in encouraging them to explore and discover their potential to become physicians, physical therapists and more. Make a commitment this year to promote a career in health care at high school career days, to tell your own story of developing a passion for caring, and even to share how attention to academics can allow these students to change the path of their lives. More information about the Health Careers Scholarship is available at our website, www.scmaa.org. ::
Ms. Pappas is vice president for marketing and communications at the SCMA Alliance & Foundation.
SONOMA MEDICINE | Summer 2014 | Sonoma County Medical Association
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