The alarming and expanding deficit of family physicians in Kansas and across the country has been widely publicized. Two students who are doing their part to help change the trend, and who have been rewarded for their efforts are Lindsay Podhajsky and Jennifer Sturich-Cummins.
On Friday, May 11th, Podhajsky and Sturich-Cummins were presented with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City Family Medicine Scholarship. The scholarship is worth $12,500 for each student.
Family and friends helped celebrate their success at the awards ceremony, while David Gentile, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, illustrated why their decision to specialize in family medicine is such an important one.
"By 2020, 40% of primary care physicians will be eligible for retirement," he said. "There's going to be a huge drop off and we need more people like Lindsay and Jennifer to take over."
The void created simply can't be filled by the number of students currently choosing general practice. Only a few decades ago, the majority of medical students were choosing to go into general practice, but changes to the medical education system has left many students choosing more specialized fields. Luckily, KU Medical Center has one of the strongest family medicine student education programs in the country. Sturich-Cummins said her experience here was fantastic, and she has no doubt that she made the right decision.
"I'm interested in everything," she said. "With family medicine, I get to do a little bit of everything."
She is very interested in research and how it can have an immediate effect on the community. She will be attending Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri for her residency.
Podhajsky's passion lies in prevention. She is looking forward to being able to keep families healthy and she will be completing her residency at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. However, she says she could see herself returning to the Kansas City area to practice medicine.
"I love this area," she said. "So there's always the possibility that I'll be back in a few years."
Podhajsky and Sturich-Cummins were chosen from the numerous KU Medical Center fourth year students entering family medicine by Drs. John Delzell, Associate Chair of Medical Student Education, and Josh Freeman, Family Medicine Department Chair.
"We are very pleased that Lindsay and Jennifer have chosen family medicine [as their specialty]," said Dr. Delzell. "They're wonderful students and they're going to be wonderful physicians."
Academic performance, clinical skills, and leadership and volunteer roles were factors when Drs. Delzell and Freeman were making their decision.