The privilege of being a physician comes at a price, literally. Many students find themselves on a path to medicine because of their rich passion for science and helping others. However, the financial cost is an enormous eye-opening barrier to achieving the skills necessary to diagnose and treat patients. The average cost of medical education in the United States is $166,750 and rising. This financial burden is most often paid through loans, which generally start being paid back during residency. The stress of having astronomical loans and paying them back is something that is impossible for medical students to ignore.
My name is Claire Gleadhill, a second-year student at Quillen, and I am honored to be one of many recipients of the scholarships offered through the Quillen Alumni Association, ETSU Foundation, the Bertha B. Votaw Scholarship Endowment, established by Dr. May Votaw and her late husband, Dr. Chuck Votaw. The Votaws were assisted with their medical school expenses by Chuck Votaw’s mother, whom they memorialized by naming the scholarship for her. Thanks to the generous support of these donors, I am able to attend medical school with a greater peace of mind.
This financial freedom has helped me to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle and succeed in my classes despite the many stresses that medical education brings. I feel that this will undoubtedly contribute to making me a capable, confident, and resilient physician. Many of my friends will tell you how passionate I am about learning. Throughout anatomy, pathology, microbiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology I have felt as though I am being exposed to all the information I have ever wanted. I love having the freedom to immerse myself in my studies without the burden of financial worries. Without scholarship patrons willing to support medical education, students such as myself would be unable to pursue advanced health care degrees, and I cannot imagine my life without being able to pursue my passion for medicine.
While I enjoy almost every aspect of medicine we have learned so far, I still do not know what specialty of medicine I will choose. Another benefit of the scholarship I receive is that it gives me more freedom to choose where I can make the greatest impact rather than focusing on future financial benefits. In October of 2017, I went on a medical mission trip with the Rural Track program to Belize. During a long day at the clinic, a woman came in with severe right upper quadrant pain. As a resident performed her ultrasound, I held her hand as tears slowly fell from the pain. Not only did she have severe gallstones, but we also diagnosed her with type II diabetes. I fumbled through explaining the disease process of diabetes in laymen’s terms to my patient. I was amazed that she hung onto my every word and that I cared so much for her. She was able to understand how much I wanted her to feel better. It was at this moment that I first experienced the humbling respect patients give their physicians, and how precious the physician/patient relationship is. The knowledge I gain in school and the experiences and patient interactions described above have helped me realize that the real value of a medical education is priceless. On behalf of all the scholarship recipients at Quillen, thank you to our donors for your generosity, every little bit counts.