Oregon Medical Education Foundation

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, as follows:

Nicolette O’Donnell, from COMP-Northwest is an Oregon native, and graduated from Oregon State in 2009. “COMP NW has been a great fit for me and I am happy I got to stay in in the Northwest for medical school.” (Photo: Ms. O'Donnell and OMA President Bud Pierce, MD)

Brandy Pestka, from Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies earned her Bachelor of Arts in History from St. Lawrence University in 2008. “I am very honored to have received this scholarship.” She plans to practice in Oregon once she graduates from Pacific University this summer. (Photo: A faculty member from Pacific University accepts the scholarship on behalf of Ms. Pestka with OMA President Bud Pierce, MD)

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