Where are they now?

This year, we are following up with past Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society scholarship recipients starting with the Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, Scholarship winners. We checked in with these bright winners to see where they are in their medical careers and how the scholarship inspired their success!

Medical student Shenel (Franklin) Heisler, received the 2016 $1,000 Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, Scholarship available to first-year medical students who are residents of Berks, Lehigh, or Northampton counties. She attends the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Pictured below on her wedding day with Lt. Andrew Heisler, a supply officer in the Navy. He is currently deployed on the USS Truxtun.

Shenel Heisler said, "During my undergraduate education I started to work in different health care settings which made me realize that I wanted to become a physician. The time doctors spent learning about the human body in every way allowed them to use an exponential amount of information to treat their patient in the best possible form. By committing to be a physician, they were committing to a career of lifelong education that would continuously improve the life of others."

To help local medical students offset the cost of education, former Foundation trustee, Elena Pascal, and her sister, Carla Vigilante, established this scholarship in 1999 in memory of their parents who were Allentown physicians. Pascal said, "Shenel embodies the spirit of the way my parents cared for patients."

Heisler said, "This scholarship means so much to me. Originally being from the Lehigh Valley, I have had first-hand experience with the wonderful providers that work in the area. To meet Dr. and Mrs. Pascal who already work in this area, and to hear firsthand from them how much their parents loved to provide for their patients, makes me feel truly honored."

Narrowing down her two specialty, she said, "I'm leaning towards OB/GYN or pediatrics. Every day I seem to lean more and more towards pediatrics. I truly love helping children! We will see if my decision is the same once I get to clinical rotations. I plan on entering every rotation with an open mind, because you never know what you will like! But at the moment my gut is telling me that I will end up being in the pediatric field."

She encourages others to apply for scholarships through the Foundation and as far as medical school, she offers this advice: "Work hard, and pursue this dream for the right reasons. If you are truly interested in helping people for the rest of your life, I feel that this is a great way to do it. Have perseverance, and do not doubt yourself. There will certainly be some bumps in the road, but as long as you are willing to put the time and effort in, you can do it!"

Aubri Charnigo was a medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

Q: How did the scholarship award help you in medical school?

A: The scholarship award assisted me in lowering the amount of loans I need to take out, which relieved some of my financial burden. The award also encouraged me in that I felt supported in my pursuit of medicine. I also had the opportunity to meet other medical students and physicians from my community in Pennsylvania, which was very meaningful.

Q: How do you see student debt affecting today's medical students?

A: Student debt drives medical students into making more financially oriented career decisions than they would make it they were choosing a specialty debt-free. The very high burden of debt also likely prevents students from making a career of caring for underserved patients, such as the uninsured or underinsured, although many medical students initially chose to go into medicine to serve the underserved.”

Punit Singh is a anesthesiology resident at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Q: How do you see student debt affecting today's medical students?

A: Discourages them. Makes them think they've made a series of wrong decisions that have lead them to be a doctor. Also discourages them from going into primary care specialties such as family medicine.

Ramzy Nagle is a medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia.

Q: Do you have any career advice for future physicians?

A: Pick a medical school based on the reputation of the physicians they create and its investment in its students.

Elizabeth Miller, MD, attended Temple University School of Medicine. She is a Diagnostic Radiology Resident at Beaumont Health System in Michigan.

Q: How did the scholarship award help you in medical school, and how did receiving this scholarship encourage you in your studies?

A: Receiving the scholarship actually allowed me to pursue a medical trip to further my clinical understanding of how diseases affect patients all over the globe.

Q: How do you see student debt affecting today's medical students?

A: Student debt might affect today's medical students when they are trying to determine a medical field to pursue for residency. Medical students may be swayed to pursue a more lucrative field rather than primary care, which is known for relatively lower salaries compared to other specialized medical fields.

Want to learn more about establishing a named scholarship? Email Margie Lamberson or call her at (717) 558-7846. Click here to donate to a scholarship fund.

Want to know how you can fund a scholarship and meet financial goals? Click here to find out more about planned giving.