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Luncheon Raises $97,000 for NMF in California

Lonnie Bristow, M.D. (left) and Arthur Kaemmer, M.D. (right)
 Founder's Award recipient, Lonnie Bristow, MD (left)  and NMF Chairman of the Board, Arthur Kaemmer, MD.
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After its second successful year, the Founder's Award Luncheon in San Francisco benefiting National Medical Fellowships "is taking on a life of its own," reported David Werdegar, M.D., NMF board member and chairman of the event's planning committee.

The event on May 22 raised $97,000 for NMF activities in California (see sponsors list). As an added feature, Kaiser Permanente announced before some 140 guests that it was contributing $80,000 toward the NMF AIDS Fellowship Program at the University of California, San Francisco, AIDS Research Institute. Kaiser Permanente, the oldest health maintenance organization in the country, also will be making its AIDS clinics available for rotations by NMF AIDS Fellows and assign as many as four physicians specializing in AIDS care and prevention to serve as mentors to the Fellows. The first cohort of eight medical students is expected to enroll at UCSF's AIDS Fellowship Program in the spring of 2003.

The luncheon, organized to support NMF and recognize a former NMF scholar "who has made extraordinary contributions to the health and well-being of the populace," honored Lonnie Bristow, M.D., M.A.C.P., and former president of the American Medical Association (1995-96). Dr. Bristow practiced internal medicine in the California communities of Richmond and San Pablo for more than 30 years. Retired since 1998, he has continued advocating, through the AMA and other organizations, for programs that encourage youth to consider the health professions as a career.

As a child in Harlem, Dr. Bristow readily viewed a career in medicine for himself as attainable because of what he saw at the former Sydenham Hospital, where he regularly waited for his mother, a nurse, to complete her night shift so he could walk her home. "There were physicians of almost every race," he said. "This was an opportunity to see people of color doing what seemed heroic to me, a boy of 12."

Sandra R. Hernandez, M.D., chief executive officer of The San Francisco Foundation and a former NMF scholar, served as the luncheon's master of ceremonies. Melanie Watkins, a fourth-year student attending Stanford University School of Medicine, delivered the student address. Ms. Watkins recounted her educational hurdles, including pregnancy and childbirth as a teenager and her role as a single parent, and the significance of receiving need-based scholarship funds and fellowship awards through NMF.

NMF opened a San Francisco office three years ago and has been instrumental in raising more than $1 million in new funding for increasing the number of underrepresented physicians. Fifteen per cent of all NMF funds were distributed to California medical students last year. In the category of need-based scholarships for first- and second-year medical students, the proportion of funds disbursed was 36 per cent.

NMF also has been a pioneer with its Community Service Scholarship Program, which now provides grants of $7,500 each to 16 medical students throughout the state. In return, students serve six-week externships in community health clinics, thereby offsetting the rising costs of tuition and fees and making it that much more possible to encourage careers in community primary care.

Links: First Annual Founders Award Luncheon

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