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Med student awarded scholarship, thanks to Catholic Health

First-year medical student Dean Salem, photographed here in the Austin Flint Reading Room in the Health Sciences Library, is the recipient of a Western New York Medical Scholarship funded by Catholic Health. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MARY COCHRANE

Published February 16, 2017

“This scholarship allows me to focus singularly on my education rather than on financial constraints, and I believe that I will be a better physician for it.”
Dean Salem, first year medical student and recipient
Western New York Medical Scholarship

Buffalo native Dean Salem —son of immigrant parents and a first-year student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences — has been awarded a Western New York Medical Scholarship, thanks to a generous gift from Catholic Health.

It’s the first of three scholarships Catholic Health has committed to fund over the next 12 years, for a total pledged commitment of $384,000 to support UB medical students and the local medical community.

The Western New York Medical Scholarship Fund provides four-year scholarships to local students to attend the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The goal is to train and retain more doctors in the eight counties of Western New York, stemming a steady decline in the number of physicians who practice here.

Scholarship recipients are awarded about $30,000 annually, and must pledge to practice in Western New York for five years upon finishing medical school and resident training. The highly selective criteria require recipients to have excelled academically, to have graduated from a high school in the eight-county region of Western New York and to have demonstrated financial need.

In contributing to the scholarship fund, Catholic Health is looking to support a local medical student who has ties to Catholic Health, either as an associate or family member of an associate, and is willing to affiliate with the health system for the commitment period following their residency training, says President and CEO Joe McDonald.

“Catholic Health is committed to investing in the professional development of our associates and proud to be part of this innovative scholarship program at UB that supports our efforts,” McDonald says.

A life of firsts

Salem has lived a life of firsts: He is the first in a family of five children; the first in his family to go to college, graduating from UB in 2014 with a BS in medical technology; and the first in his family to study medicine. Before enrolling in the UB medical school, he landed his first full-time job as a medical technologist at Catholic Health’s Sisters of Charity Hospital, where he also was a volunteer.

“We are pleased to be able to fund a scholarship that helps one of our former associates realize his dreams, addresses the decline of physicians in our community and gives local medical students the opportunity to practice in their own hometown, which benefits us all,” McDonald says.

Salem’s parents immigrated to the United States from Yemen, where they had grown up in a village farming community. “They came here in the hope of providing a better life for their children, and I think they have succeeded,” says Salem, adding that he earned his undergraduate degree for himself and for his family.

“When I graduated, I felt as if I had lifted up my entire family with me,” he says. “My experience at UB demonstrated to my younger siblings the opportunities that college brings.”

Salem is very grateful to Catholic Health and the Western New York Medical Scholarship program for giving him this opportunity.

“Medical school is stressful enough without having to think about the debt that you are incurring while you attend,” he says. “This scholarship allows me to focus singularly on my education rather than on financial constraints, and I believe that I will be a better physician for it. It truly is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.

“The University at Buffalo is where my interest in science was fostered,” he adds, “and I am happy to be able to continue my education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.”