Prior to starting medical school, Ms. Shin resolved to be a physician who gives back to the community through mentorship and education.
The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Council at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) in Suwanee, Georgia, recently named Hannah Shin (DO ’19) the Student DO of the Year. Her selection was based on her service to the college and the community, leadership, research experience and dedication to the osteopathic profession.
Shin will now be considered for the National Student DO of the Year Award which is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). The recipient is chosen by the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents from among the outstanding students selected by their schools. Currently, there are 34 medical schools that offer DO degrees in 49 locations and 34 states across the United States.
According to Shin, prior to starting medical school, she resolved to be intentional and purposeful with her life, to be a physician who gives back to the community and “continues the circle of mentorship and education.”
With this intention in mind, she said her “greatest passion and pride” while in medical school was in leading the Health Career Academy (HCA), a mentorship program she helped to establish at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville which reached and encouraged underrepresented minority high school students to graduate and to consider careers in health care. The Health Career Academy concept was designed by Main Line Health, a network of hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and supported by Aetna.
From December 2015 to May 2018, Shin worked to develop an engaging curriculum that allowed students to address community health issues and mentored the high school students from their sophomore to senior years.
“Through HCA,” she said, “I saw how students forfeited educational opportunities due to financial hardship or lack of exposure. It felt like a disservice to tell them to dream big, but not address the hurdles they faced.”
As a result, while planning to serve as one of the directors for Camp Neuro, a week-long summer program hosted by GA-PCOM for high school students interested in medicine, she raised the idea of establishing a scholarship for HCA students who couldn’t afford to attend Camp Neuro. “Without hesitation,” she said, “our mentors came together to make that happen and the outpouring of support from the GA-PCOM student body provided funding for two scholarships.”
At HCA, Shin said, “We used every opportunity to encourage the high school students, celebrate their accomplishments and push them just a bit harder and further than their comfort zone.” By showing up for them every Friday for multiple weeks, she said, “It was our way of telling the students – ‘we’re not going anywhere. We’re here to support you.’” She explained that the more the GA-PCOM students expressed their faith in the Central Gwinnett students, the more they started to believe in themselves. “Slowly but surely, we started to see them reach higher and dream bigger. All it took was a series of simple conversations to bring about profound change in the students’ and mentors’ behavior.”
She reported that there are now several Central Gwinnett High School students who aspire to be oncologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, general practitioners and pharmacists.
Shin led the team of GA-PCOM DO, pharmacy and biomedical sciences students who mentored the high school students and said she was surprised with the mentors’ amazing ability to connect with them. “It is hard to gauge with any certainty what impact this program will have in years to come, however, both the mentors and mentees have, without a doubt, learned to trust and lean on one another, and this small act has already transformed and empowered everyone involved, including myself.”
In addition, Shin served as vice president of community service for the GA-PCOM chapter of the Phi Chi international medical service fraternity, was named the Outstanding Student Leader of the Year in 2017, received the Alonzo D’Alonzo, DO, Endowed Memorial Award for community service, was a Welch Scholar recipient and participated in a summer international health fellowship in Huancayo, Peru, through the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children.
Shin said that as she grows into her role as a physician, she will carry many lessons learned with her. “I am fully aware that patient care is not a solitary effort. On the contrary, it requires a careful orchestration of open communication and cohesive collaboration toward a common goal,” she said.
“Wherever I practice, my goal is to foster a culture based on mutual respect and confidence with both my team and my patients. By doing so,” she added, “I hope my patients will feel empowered to invest in their health as my mentees did with their futures.”
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 which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. 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 or call 678-225-7500.
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