Scholarships bestowed upon just 9 students nationwide recognize academic excellence, service 

September 20, 2006 

WORCESTER, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Medical School student Heather Smith has been awarded a Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship from the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. Awarded to just nine medical students in the nation, the scholarships recognize students who have excelled in academics. A resident of Canton, Mass., Smith was nominated by UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare for this prestigious award, which includes $10,000 to help defray medical school expenses.

"I am so thrilled and honored to be selected from among my peers around the country to receive this award from the AMA," Smith said. "While the scholarship will certainly be incredibly helpful financially, it is also a very welcoming and appreciated validation for the educational and professional path that I have chosen to pursue."

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Smith cultivated an interest in community and public health while spending two years working for a number of nonprofit agencies in Boston's underserved neighborhoods. Inspired to further her education, she went on to earn a master's degree in public health with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences from Boston University, and in 2002, she enrolled at UMMS. Since that time, Smith has distinguished herself as an accomplished scholar with a commitment to improving health care delivery and policy for the benefit of public health. 

To broaden her understanding of the complex issues facing medical students and future physicians, Smith took a leave of absence following a successful third year at UMMS to serve as the AMA Medical Student Section's 2005-2006 Government Relations Advocacy Fellow (GRAF) in Washington, D.C. Through this role, Smith has proved a very active and effective liaison, working in the Division of Legislative Counsel, focusing primarily on medical student and resident issues. 

"We applaud the AMA for honoring Heather's exceptional achievements. She is a shining example of the type of student that we educate at UMass Medical School-bright, articulate and passionate about the practice of medicine, particularly the delivery of care to those communities that are too often underserved," said Dr. Lazare. 

On a state and regional level, Smith is active in the Massachusetts Medical Society and in the American Medical Association, as well as in the local chapter of the American Medical Women's Association and the student interest group for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  She also has been awarded two scholarships based on academic and service achievement. Her contributions were recognized by her peers with a 2004 Student Body Committee Leadership Award, given by students to students, in recognition of innovative contributions to the medical school through initiative, commitment and leadership in the areas of community service, student life or academic curriculum.
"Heather is an exceptional communicator, who has performed academically at an outstanding level and has impressive interpersonal and leadership skills to match.  Her dedication to the needs of minority and underserved populations has been reflected in her work in medical school.   I am confident that she will become a superb physician, teacher and a leader in our field," said UMMS Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Mai-Lan Rogoff, MD.
About The AMA Foundation
The AMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Medical Association, has made a priority of helping medical students handle the rising cost of their education. On average, future physicians graduate approximately $120,000 in debt, and in many cases the debt load is much higher. Since its founding in 1950, the AMA Foundation has contributed more than $90 million in educational, research and public health grants.

About UMMS
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, a perennial top finisher in the annual U.S.News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, was founded to meet the health care needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth by providing residents an affordable, accessible, comprehensive and rewarding medical education of the highest quality. The school is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector and in underserved areas of Massachusetts. UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service. 

Kelly Bishop
Phone: (508) 856-2000