Kaitlin Russon, who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in June with a degree in health sciences, will receive the 6th annual Primary Care Physician Award from Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center (SMSC) and the Central California Alliance for Health.
"The future of health care reform for this country depends on people like Kaitlin," said Larry deGhetaldi, M.D., president of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz and SMSC community board member. "Very soon the number of insured people will increase, and they will all need medical 'homes' with primary care physicians like Kaitlin."
"Becoming a primary care doctor will allow me to integrate my passion for health with my genuine care for people," Russon said. "I feel that healthcare is something everyone should have access to, and our primary challenge is to make that happen."
As a health sciences major, Russon gained a vast reservoir of experience in her time at UCSC. She used her Spanish skills to work with families at the Walnut Avenue Women's Center, sang for hospice patients, mentored children in the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program, and interned with primary care physicians.
The annual primary care award was established by SMSC and the Alliance in conjunction with the UC Santa Cruz Foundation to help carry out their mission to provide high quality primary care to central coast Medi-Cal patients. 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.
"We are pleased to be able to award this scholarship to Kaitlin," said Alan McKay, executive director of the Alliance. "With her extensive background, interest in medicine, and fluency in Spanish, she will be an excellent addition to our local medical community."
Candidates 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 they will be expected to serve Medi-Cal patients.
Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center is part of the Sutter Health network.