An interventional cardiologist shows his appreciation for Duluth’s family medicine focus by giving back
Three years ago, Gregory Schuchard, M.D., took stock of his career and achievements and concluded it was time to act. The 1979 University of Minnesota Medical School graduate made a $100,000 commitment to fund a scholarship for a student who starts medical school in Duluth.
“I decided that it was time to give back, right now, while I had the opportunity to influence how my contribution was used, to see the results, and even challenge my classmates to consider doing something similar,” says Schuchard, who completed his first two years of medical school on the Duluth campus.
Now an interventional cardiologist at the Prevea Health Clinic in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Schuchard specified that the scholarship be awarded based on financial need to candidates who have successfully overcome the greatest personal, professional, or financial challenge in becoming a family physician.
“I could have given the scholarship to a straight-A student, but I believe that they get plenty of opportunities,” he explains. “Instead, I wanted to support a student who has to overcome challenges to become a doctor, because when you have to work hard for your education, you value it more.”
The son of a teacher and a department store clerk, Schuchard paid for his own education at Mankato State University, Gustavus Adolphus College, and the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Although he initially intended to become a family physician, Schuchard felt the pull of interventional cardiology. “I had every intention of becoming a family physician,” he reflects, “but over time I just related more to people with heart problems and found the technical and procedural aspects of my specialty especially challenging and rewarding.”
Despite his own career choice, Schuchard appreciates family physicians’ role. “Even though I did not choose that path, I value the family docs whom I work with every day. They work so hard for their patients, make important diagnoses, and by referring their patients to me for specialty care, can help save a lot of lives.”
Elizabeth Wheatley, from Wyoming, Minnesota, was awarded a Schuchard scholarship this year and last. A third-year medical student, Wheatley last fall entered the University’s Rural Physician Associate Program. Students in the program live and train in rural communities for nine months under the supervision of family physicians and preceptors.
“Becoming a family physician is important to me because I like the idea of providing continuity of care to patients,” Wheatley says. “Dr. Schuchard’s scholarship has come at just the right moment in my life. During the last two years, many of my family members have been seriously ill. Concentrating on school while dealing with that stress has been challenging.”
Establishing the scholarship fund now, rather than at the end of his career, made sense to Schuchard. “Some people give at retirement or even in their wills, but I wasn’t interested in that,” he says. “I wanted to tell the school that educated me that I appreciated my education. I wanted to do it while I’m young enough to see what it accomplishes and to be personally involved.
“If there’s one thing I believe strongly,” Schuchard concludes, “it’s that we physicians are all part of a continuum, and we need to help the generation that follows us. When I can put my good fortune and my imprint on the school that helped me—that’s rewarding.”