Berlin, Conn., graduate initial recipient
A group of nearly 100 Connecticut physicians pledged their support to help promising students attend the UConn School of Medicine. The Hartford Medical Society established a $103,000 endowment that will provide a scholarship to a medical student every year in perpetuity.
“Aside from joy and gratitude, I also feel extremely supported,’’ said Pooja Patel, the first recipient to receive the medical scholarship. Patel, of Berlin, Conn., graduated from the University of Rochester and starts at the UConn School of Medicine in fall 2015.
“I know that at UConn I will be surrounded by faculty and physicians who want to share their love for medicine and service,’’ said Patel. “To receive support from a local organization only deeper instilled how thankful I am to be from an area with such a strong sense of community. I would thank them for their generosity in helping to fund my education.’’
The Hartford Medical Society’s gift comes amid the UConn Foundation’s student support initiative to raise $150 million in scholarships and fellowships over the next five years.
Founded in 1846, the Hartford Medical Society brought together physicians of Hartford County monthly to share new knowledge and discuss interesting cases. Meticulous records from those early meetings, antiquarian medical books, and ephemera have been preserved for 169 years by generations of doctors. Today, the Hartford Medical Society’s mission is to maintain the archive and encourage interest in the medical humanities. Since the group moved its archive from its own facility to the Lyman Maynard Stowe Library at UConn Health in 2009, the members have built strong relationships with UConn’s faculty and staff.
“We found a new home at UConn,” said Ira Spar MD, president of the Hartford Medical Society. “Our medical history archive is in good hands, preserved for our use and that of future generations. The staff we work with at UConn share our passion and vision. Our members subscribe to the same ethic that drives the mission of the National Archives: ‘The past is prologue.’”
Members still meet several times a year, hosting special guest speakers. This year’s speakers include a UConn Health faculty expert on Ebola, former Governor Lowell Weicker, and radio personality and columnist Colin McEnroe. “Part of our mission as we see it today is to encourage collegiality within our profession and mentor medical students and new doctors. Being at UConn has helped us fulfill our commitment while carrying on the legacy of the Hartford Medical Society,” said Spar.
When the Hartford Medical Society had to decide what to do with proceeds from the sale of its property on Scarborough Street in Hartford, there was unanimous consensus among members that the best investment in the future of their profession would be a scholarship to help talented students afford medical school.
“The Hartford Medical Society is putting its money where its mouth is. I think we have an obligation. Where should our dollars go? Into education,” added Spar.
Spar and his fellow physicians want their scholarship to reduce the need to rely on loans.
“I’m aware of the costs to attend medical school today. Many banks don’t provide student loans anymore and if you look at the loan funds available for students, the interest rate is exorbitant. Federal loans to banks have lower interest rates than student loans. These are the facts of life for people who want to go to medical school today,” explained Spar. “That’s why it’s so important to give back through scholarships to help the next generation.”
Patel proudly accepted the Hartford Medical Society’s invitation to attend the group’s fall meeting in September and looks forward to thanking her supporters person.
“I am especially honored to receive the Hartford Medical Society Scholarship in particular. The HMS library is an invaluable resource and UConn students are lucky to have this wealth of knowledge at their fingertips,’’ said Patel.’’ “Furthermore, the lecture series that the HMS sponsors, which highlights both current issues in medicine and the history of medicine, are both informative and interesting for medical students and physicians.’’