In her time at PCOM Georgia, Dr. Shin tirelessly served the community, institution and DO profession through service and education.
Before she entered medical school, Hannah Shin, DO ’19, taught high school in Korea and worked for a South Korean press agency, drawn by the potential of photojournalism “to tell people’s stories and motivate people to change the world.” Now just weeks away from a surgery residency, the winner of this year’s Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal reflects, “As a teacher and a journalist, I listened to people’s stories; as a surgeon, I’ll get to actually change those stories.”
In fact, she began that work long ago as a tireless community service volunteer who sacrificed not a drop of academic excellence to her daunting schedule.
Dr. Shin’s proudest achievement during medical school at PCOM Georgia is her involvement with the Health Career Academy (HCA) held at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, which encourages underrepresented minority students to graduate and to pursue careers in health care. For five months each in grades 10-12, the HCA’s high school students worked with osteopathic medicine, pharmacy and biomedical sciences student mentors from PCOM Georgia. The HCA concept was designed by Main Line Health, a network of hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia, and supported by Aetna.
When the first HCA class graduated in May 2018, Dr. Shin, one of the academy’s leaders, was moved by her students’ progress and their excitement about their futures. The high school valedictorian, invited to the Governor’s Mansion on the same day, “left early so he could make it to our graduation—running into the library, huffing and puffing. We really connected with these kids,” Dr. Shin recalled.
HCA was far from her only endeavor. As the community service liaison for the Office of Student Affairs, Dr. Shin organized relief efforts for the Louisiana floods and sponsorship of Thanksgiving baskets for veterans and the homeless. She led a team of volunteers as director of Camp Neuro, a weeklong summer camp hosted by PCOM Georgia for high school students interested in medicine, and helped organize a fundraiser to provide two of those students with scholarships.
She was vice president of Phi Chi medical fraternity and brought a chapter of the American Medical Women's Association to campus, planning service events and advocating for women's health issues. The 2018 PCOM Georgia’s Student DO of the Year, she received the Silver Level award of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents for community service.
Dr. Shin’s photojournalist’s eye sees “a beauty to surgery—the minute the camera enters the abdominal cavity. . . . And there’s something about first learning about your patients and their ailments and then having that ability to have a direct and positive transformation on the course of their lives.”
As Dr. Shin reflects on her journey through medical school, she highlights the value of good mentors—“people who’ve been through it, who can tell you that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”—and of teamwork: “Surgery is such a coordinated effort. If your team doesn’t trust and respect you, nothing gets done. You want to be a person that people look up to—a good leader, listener, teacher.”
As the PCOM Georgia Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal recipient, Dr. Shin was honored at a reception held at The 1818 Club in Duluth on the evening prior to the May 22, 2019 commencement ceremonies. The award is presented to one student from each PCOM campus for their outstanding achievement and service to the College, the community and the osteopathic profession.
Addressing the faculty, staff, fellow students, family members and friends who attended the reception, she said it took “a village” to get her to this place.
She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Dr. Shin noted that her decision to attend PCOM Georgia “allowed me to do just that.”
“In the words of Meredith Grey, you all set the bar high, so very high, constantly reminding us of the privilege that comes with this profession and the expectations of the trails we will blaze, the people we will help, and the difference we will make.”
She said that graduates have to decide what kind of difference they will make.
“For me, it is investing and educating future generations, because our communities cannot grow if we don’t plant the seeds.”
Her focus is on the generation behind her. “I want to tell the next generation that they were made exactly as they are, to be whom they were always meant to be, wholeheartedly and unapologetically.”
She continued, “That they have the capacity to celebrate their uniqueness and use every ounce of potential given to them and more. That they really can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
Just like Dr. Hannah Shin. This award-winning graduate has accepted a residency position
in General Surgery at PCOM in Philadelphia and will start her training on June 24.
Well done, Dr. Shin!
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
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