On April 21, the Oregon Medical Association and its members hosted an event for medical and PA students in the Pearl District in Portland for one purpose: so the Oregon Medical Education Foundation (OMEF) could award the first of what it intends to be many $5000 scholarships to four students in Oregon programs.
The unconventional scholarships, awarded based on a random drawing at the party, are intended to call attention to and help reduce the burden of, student debt.
"We have to do something to make medical training more affordable," said Bud Pierce, MD, OMA's president and the OMEF Board member behind the initiative. "We are crippling our future physicians and PAs with unsustainable debt; we have to ensure that we're not making it so expensive to get an education that only the wealthy can think of going into medicine."
Pierce speaks from experience; the son of a working-class family in Southern California, he received all his training at UCLA through funding from the taxpayers of the State of California, and the GI bill which he received upon the service-connected death of his father, an enlisted soldier who survived a Japanese prisoner of war camp. He was able to graduate with no student debt, but he recognizes that his experience is virtually unheard of today.
The scholarships were awarded to students from each of Oregon's medical and physician assistant training programs. The OHSU awardees were:
Melissa Rhyasen, from OHSU Physician Assistant Program is from Malad City, ID, and studied Biology at Brigham Young University. Prior to joining the PA program, she worked in Gresham as a Medical Assistant for Calcagno Pediatrics.
Natalie Wu, from OHSU School of Medicine is a 2nd year medical student originally from Bellevue, WA. She studied biology at UC Berkeley and is most likely heading towards a career in Pediatrics or Family Medicine.
The OMA is an organization of over 7,500 physicians, physician assistants, and medical and PA students organized to serve and support physicians in their efforts to improve the health of Oregonians. Additional information can be found at www.theOMA.org
The Oregon Medical Education Foundation (OMEF) was formed by OMA in 1961. It is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of medical science through education; it also serves as a repository for special and memorial gifts.
Pictured above: (top) Melissa Rhyasen, (bottom) Natalie Wu