Scholarships and Medical Education
Discover what’s possible. Browse these features to find out more about the impact of University of Minnesota research, education, and care—and how you can help.
Brian Park, a third-year medical student at the time, had seen the patient, a morbidly obese woman with CoPd and recurrent pneumonia, for three months. But he didn’t have the context he needed to understand her health struggles — until he saw her home, a very small house where she lived with at least three generations of her family, as well as several friends who tended to come and go.
Russ Scheffler enjoyed medical students. For the two-and-a- half years he lived with cancer of the appendix, he befriended, quizzed, and “tormented” several of them, recalls his wife, Kathy. He recognized the teaching value of his illness, and welcomed the presence of aspiring physicians in the room. “He liked all the attention, he liked that interaction,” Kathy Scheffler says. When his University of Minnesota surgeon, Todd Tuttle, M.D., mentioned plans to bring a student on an upcoming medical mission trip to Honduras, Russ offered to pay for the student’s trip. That was news to Kathy, but she loved the idea.
For most students, committing to medical school comes with a hefty price tag, the weight of which can be overwhelming. Enter Avera Marshall. For six years, the regional medical center in southwestern Minnesota has been working to lift that weight in hopes of inspiring future doctors to return to the area.
After witnessing the ravages of war in his native country of Somalia, Mohamed Hassan was determined to pursue a career in medicine. "I was inspired [to act] by seeing the civil war ... and many people dying of simple things that could easily be cured," he says.
Hassan, who moved to Minneapolis at the age of 10 and graduated from South High School, didn’t know how he would reach his goal — until he learned about Minnesota’s Future Doctors, which put the U of M junior on track to begin medical school in 2013.
University of Minnesota undergraduate student Joohee Han plans to begin medical school in August 2013. Of being involved in Minnesota's Future Doctors, Han says, "The program means everything to my future.” Read more about Han's amazing journey to Minnesota and how she plans to tackle her goals of being a doctor.
St. Paul native Rachel Kay, who is working toward her Bachelor's degree in human evolutionary biology at Harvard College, hopes to return to the Midwest to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Read more about Kay's goal of working in a level 1 trauma center and how her experience with the Minnesota's Future Doctors programs is invaluable.
When second-year medical student and scholarship winner Noah Wride compares becoming a physician to running a marathon, it’s not an idle metaphor. Wride has tackled two marathons since moving to Minnesota, and he knows a little something about discipline and perseverance.
Having first explored medicine as a high school student in American Fork, Utah, while participating in an outreach program for Native American scholars at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Wride knows he’s in it for the long haul.
While stationed at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. in 1962, Jerome Modell, M.D., D.Sc. (Hon.), had a career-changing close call involving a critically ill patient. “A flight surgery student from Japan drowned,” recalls Modell, a 1957 graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School. Although he was able to save the patient’s life, Modell was hampered by a lack of treatment protocols related to drowning. Another complication: “We didn’t have intensive care units back then,” he says. In the years that followed, Modell led efforts to establish one of Florida’s first Intensive Care Units at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, and later became a national expert in resuscitation and drowning.
Mayo D325 is no ordinary classroom. Gone are the podium and rows of tables and chairs — and along with it, the lecture-and-notes model of education that traditionally has transpired there. The classroom reopened for fall semester as the Mercy Learning Lab, a redesigned and re-equipped facility that includes larger tables meant to promote discussion and teamwork.
For neurologist Arthur Klassen, M.D., teaching is a lifelong passion.
Klassen believes that one of the critical places where young clinicians learn is far from campus. Attending a national conference such as the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology is not only a training program requirement, but it's also a key career move, he says.
The Global Health Course, taught in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aims to decrease disparities in medicine, in part, by improving health care for immigrants, refugees, and travelers.
The course is open to practicing health professionals in addition to resident physicians in training. Gopherstan is meant to give course participants a taste of working under pressure in “resource-limited settings.”
Fourth-year medical student Robin Brusen is a problem solver.
While earning his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, he and a group of fellow students were charged with finding a quick, easy, cheap way to monitor premature infants in rural South Africa for sleep apnea.
They rigged up a prototype that would buzz if it couldn’t sense the baby’s breathing and then tested it on balloons in their college laboratory. They used the device’s deflection sensor to recharge its own battery.
“To actually see it working in the way you had intended it to work, it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” says Brusen.
“I feel both personal pride and increased responsibility — an ownership of the curriculum for these students,” says Alan Johns, M.D., M.Ed., of this year’s incoming medical students. “I want them to become excellent practicing physicians, and this is their first step.”Johns (Class of 1976) is taking his first steps, too, as the new assistant dean for medical education and curriculum at the Medical School, Duluth campus. He replaces Richard Hoffman, Ph.D., who left that role in anticipation of his retirement in 2012.
Fredericus (Erik) van Kuijk, M.D., Ph.D., on October 1 began his new duties as head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.An expert in early diagnosis and nutritional and pharmacological therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), van Kuijk earned both his M.D. and Ph.D. (biochemistry) from the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His research has led to new approaches to preventing the progression of AMD.
Trim in appearance and outgoing by nature, James H. House, M.D. (Class of 1963), a renowned hand surgeon, revered teacher, and enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Minnesota Medical School, describes the 50 years he and his wife, Janelle, have spent together at the University as "a wonderful life."
"It's like Christmas," said one student as she and her fellow first-year classmates opened the boxes containing their new iPads®. The gifts were the result of a five-year, $2.3 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant awarded to Jim Boulger, Ph.D., head of the Medical School, Duluth campus Department of Behavioral Sciences, and Ruth Westra, D.O., chair of the Duluth campus Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.
Exposing medical students to rural clinical experiences early in their training has been a mainstay of the Medical School's Duluth campus since it opened in 1972. Now the campus is expanding those experiences by introducing a new Rural Family Medicine, Native American, and Minority Medical Scholars Program (RMSP). The goal remains the same: training more new doctors who are committed to rural practice.
Christopher Meyer, M.D., loved her career as a pediatric critical care doctor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. It was an intense job that required her to be on her feet all day, but she was continually amazed at the strength of the families she met. But a childhood spine condition made it difficult and often painful for Meyer to stand for hours on end. She had several surgeries, trying to alleviate the pain, and each had a rather long recovery period when she couldn't work at all.
As an undergraduate biochemistry major at the University of Minnesota, Caroline Lochungvu knew she wanted to study in Bangkok. Since the U didn't have a study abroad program there, she simply designed her own and set off for Thailand.
Premedical student Thuy Nguyen-Tran wanted to learn more and help educate others about the medical challenges faced by immigrants and refugees. Not finding an on-campus group devoted to exploring such subjects, she created a nonprofit organization, Circle of Giving, to do precisely that.
The University of Minnesota Medical School-Duluth Campus ranks first among schools graduating M.D.s who practice in rural areas and second among the 18 allopathic and osteopathic medical schools reviewed in a study published in the April issue of Academic Medicine. The authors examined a 10-year group of practicing M.D.s and D.O.s who graduated from medical school between 1988 and 1997.
When second -year University of Minnesota, Duluth medical student Anya Gybina, Ph.D., joined the Dr. Nancy English Memorial 5K Walk/Run on July 31, she was running in the footsteps of someone a lot like her.
Gybina is the first medical student to receive the Nancy I. English, M.D., Scholarship, which was designated for a woman medical student on the Duluth campus by English’s daughters, Hilary and Emily Crook; husband, Thomas Crook; and father, Blake English. Nancy English, a member of the Medical School Class of 1992, died suddenly in August 2008.
After finishing a 30-hour hospital shift, Ashley Balsam, M.D., a third-year internal medicine and pediatrics resident, doesn't go straight to bed. "I'm going to play soccer," she says. That energy is typical of Balsam. Her normal routine includes doing rotations at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, playing soccer on a team with other residents, and caring for her new puppy, Chopper. She also finds the time and passion to volunteer with local outreach programs and travel to Nicaragua, where she’s studying the long-term effects of neonatal jaundice.
Lowell Kruse was the youngest student in the Master of Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.) Program when he came to the School of Public Health (SPH) in 1965. He was 21 and had just graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His wife, Leslie, was 19. They drove to Minnesota in Lowell’s father’s cattle truck with their furniture and 6-week-old baby. "We were absolutely clueless," says Leslie. "We looked like the Clampetts."
Twin Cities ophthalmologist Richard L. Lindstrom, M.D., has many fond memories of campus life as a University of Minnesota medical student, including his fraternity involvement and season tickets to Gopher football games. But most memorable and inspiring, he says, was the support he received from others.
More than 20 students from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health worked abroad this summer on their field experience, the hands-on component of several SPH academic programs. While their projects and settings varied dramatically, the overarching goal is the same: promote health and improve lives. Much of this work is done in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and locally based groups that helped the students connect to the communities they served.
Two SPH faculty members and one student have received Global Spotlight awards from the University of Minnesota Office of International Programs (OIP). The OIP’s global spotlight is a biennial focus on a region of the world and a pressing global issue. The latest focus is on Africa and the issue is water in the world.
At Smiley’s Clinic in south Minneapolis, first-grader Hamsa Abdala, 7, waits with his mother, brother, and a Somali language interpreter to see a doctor. He hops up on the exam table, flashes a bashful smile and says that he’s glad to miss a school fieldtrip that day because of his checkup. His class was going ice skating, he explains—he prefers golf.
Hamsa is one of six pediatric patients that Sankari Kasi, M.D., a second-year family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota, will see that week for a clinical research study she’s working on as part of her residency.
Minnesota’s medical schools and teaching hospitals had more than an $8.4 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2008, according to an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) report on its member institutions.
Those institutions include the University of Minnesota Medical School and Mayo Medical School as well as Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center, Regions Hospital, Saint Marys Hospital, and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.
Music, literature, travel, foreign languages, and simple curiosity. These were some of the things W. Albert Sullivan, M.D., valued most, says his widow, Theresa Sullivan.
She helps administer the Albert Sullivan Endowed Scholarship fund, created by an anonymous Medical School alumnus to honor the longtime educator and associate dean of student affairs, who died in 1990. The scholarship helps support students who are not only promising future physicians but also "well-rounded people," says Theresa, who contributes regularly to the fund.
Anxious students from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Class of 2010 gathered at the McNamara Alumni Center on March 18 for this year’s Match Day ceremony. Surrounded by family, friends, and Medical School staff and faculty, the students learned where they would complete their residency training.
When a group of four University of Minnesota Medical School students and two faculty members visited hospitals in Israel in 2008 through an International Medical Education and Research (IMER) program, they weren't sure exactly what to expect.
They knew not to expect the same Israel they'd seen on the news. They knew not to expect third-world conditions. They just weren't expecting the huge, leading edge simulation center they saw at the country’s largest hospital, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv.
After his first international medicine experience in China in 1981, Paul G. Quie, M.D., couldn't turn back. Quie, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert who has been on the Medical School faculty since 1958, was struck by the glaring health-care disparities between these countries and the United States.
"That and hearing the 90-10 rule," which, Quie explains, estimates that 90 percent of the world’s wealth spent on health care belongs to 10 percent of its population.
Never doubt that a small group of committed students can make a far-reaching and lasting impact. Indeed, it was a small group of students that provided the initial spark for the University’s Center for Bioethics, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Today the center is widely regarded as one of the few "top-tier" bioethics programs, says Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., who was its first director, from 1987 to 1994, and now heads the bioethics program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Forty years ago, when rural family physicians were in short supply and the problem was getting worse in Minnesota, state legislators established a two-year medical campus in Duluth that would specialize in educating students committed to practicing in rural communities and who would complete medical school on the Twin Cities campus.
SPH students continue to benefit from two scholarship matching programs. The President’s Scholarship Match and 21st Century Graduate Fellowship Endowment double the impact of newly endowed scholarships for students completing their PhD, MPH, MS, and MHA degrees. The matching programs have invigorated SPH donors, who have endowed 11 new scholarships during the past year.