Brittany Guest, a UCSC senior graduating in June with a degree in health sciences, has been chosen to receive the 2009 Primary Care Physician Award from the Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center (SMSC) and the Central Coast Alliance for Health. Guest will receive a $10,000 scholarship to help pay for medical school fees and tuition.

"With a critical shortage of primary care physicians in our area, we feel it is important to encourage undergraduates with plans for medical school to pursue primary care, especially for the underserved in our community," said Ric Nichols, administrator of SMSC.

Guest said she hopes to return to the Central Coast to practice as an obstetrician/gynecologist after completing her medical training. Before applying to medical schools, she plans to travel to South America and take language classes in Argentina to strengthen her Spanish language skills.

"It is a great honor to receive the Sutter award," Guest said. "This award not only brought me closer to financially achieving my goal of becoming a doctor, but it also put into perspective why I am choosing this career path and added to all the excitement and motivation I have for becoming a physician in the Central Coast region."

Throughout her five years at UCSC, Guest has worked with developmentally disabled athletes as a Special Olympics coach. She is currently director of Special Olympics for Santa Cruz.

The award supports a graduating senior with a major in health sciences at UCSC who will be entering an accredited medical school soon after successfully completing his or her bachelor's degree. The recipient's medical training must result in an M.D. or D.O. degree and the recipient must intend to return to the Central Coast of California to practice in the area of primary care. The funds are intended to help meet the student's requirements for fees and tuition.

"Brittany is an excellent choice for the award," said Alan McKay, executive director of the Central Coast Alliance for Health. "She has been working locally as an intern and speaks Spanish. We wish her luck and look forward to seeing her back here as a doctor."

Candidates for the award are recommended by UCSC's Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology to a committee comprised of representatives from SMSC, the Alliance, and the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency. There is no implied obligation or requirement that the award recipient shall be on staff at any particular organization in the area, but he or she will be expected to serve Medi-Cal patients.