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Tucson student earns Hillel medical school scholarship

Rachel Baumann
Rachel Baumann

Rachel Baumann, a University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson student, has won the Shandel Medical Endowment Scholarship from the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation.

The merit-based, $20,000 biennial scholarship is awarded to Jewish second-year medical students attending the UA College of Medicine in either Tucson or Phoenix. An anonymous donor provided the funds.

“While the donor wishes to remain anonymous, we want them to know that the impact of their investment on our students is really quite immeasurable,” says Lori Alvord, associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the UA College of Medicine — Tucson.

Qualified applicants must exhibit social or civic responsibility and involvement. The scholarship will apply to the scholar’s third and fourth years of medical school.

Baumann, the outgoing president of the Jewish Medical Student Association, hopes to practice medicine with underserved populations within a community health center and has spent hundreds of hours volunteering with such populations. She sees physicians as both community care-givers and teachers. “As a physician, your responsibility is to take care of a community of people. You are in the business of service with the privilege of teaching patients how to take care of themselves,” she says.

Baumann was drawn to a career in medicine by the combination of the complexity of the human body and her love of science, along with the service aspect of being a doctor. Her mother, Susan Baumann, M.D., a UA College of Medicine – Tucson alumna in psychiatry, also served as a role model, she said.

She credits her family’s Judaism and its tradition of philanthropy for her commitment to underserved populations.

“I am flattered to be selected for the Shandel Medical Scholarship. It is flattering because they saw in me someone who is sincerely committed to working to help underserved populations. The scholarship is special for me also, in that the Jewish community specifically wants to support that effort and it reinforces the Jewish tradition, taught from the time we are little, to give back,” Baumann said.

Baumann volunteers with the UA’s student-led and direct CUP (Commitment to Underserved People) program, which teams students with UA physicians to treat medically underserved populations in a clinical and educational setting. Her fluency in Spanish led to a greater awareness of the challenges underserved people with language barriers have in accessing quality health care.

She also gained experience working with the UA College of Medicine’s Rural Health Professions Program. The program matches medical students with physicians working in rural areas within Arizona. Baumann worked in Douglas, serving populations from Arizona and Mexico.

“The Hillel Foundation is very pleased to be able to offer financial assistance to medical students — in particular, funding those students choosing to practice general medicine, an area of medicine that competes to lure medical students to their ranks from the high salaries offered in medical specialties such as cardiology and plastic surgery. The scholarship is offered to ease the financial burden of medical school tuition and draw qualified future doctors to the field,” says Michelle Blumenberg, executive director of the UA Hillel Foundation.