McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Scholarship helps MD student pursue family medicine

Published: January 18, 2008
Family Medicine Scholarship
Left to Right: John Suk, President and CEO of Nycomed Canada; Solveiga Pranaityte, medical student at McMaster University; and Jan Kasperski, Ontario College of Family Physicians.

Solveiga Pranaityte, a second-year medical student at McMaster, is the  2007 recipient of the Nycomed (formerly ALTANA Pharma) Family Medicine Scholarship.  Each year, this fund gives a medical student from each of the medical schools across the province a $5,000 scholarship if they pursue family medicine as their specialty. Pranaityte is the third student from McMaster University to receive the award.

Her achievement was recognized Friday night as part of the 45th Annual Scientific Assembly of the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP).  She was joined by her fellow recipients from the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario, Queen’s University and the University of Toronto.  The Northern School of Medicine will be joining the program in 2009.

"Family medicine is a very diverse, rewarding and fulfilling specialty, and I’m looking forward to serving my community," says Ms. Pranaityte.  "With medical school being so expensive, this scholarship program will help me make this goal a reality."

According to a new study released by The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), 14 per cent of the population or approximately five million Canadians, are without a family doctor.  With 31 per cent of Ontario’s doctors expected to retire in the next five years, incentive programs are considered an important step in helping to cultivate the next generation of family doctors.

"With most medical students shouldering six-figure debts, it’s understandable why students are drawn to more lucrative medical specialties," says Jan Kasperski, executive director and chief executive officer of the OCFP.  "Although the promise of a varied and rewarding practice is enough for many students, initiatives like Nycomed’s scholarship help provide an added financial incentive."

In 2003, Nycomed (then ALTANA Pharma) and the OCFP sponsored a forum addressing Ontario’s family physician shortage.  As part of the solution, the forum’s report called for more encouragement of medical students to go into family medicine.  Nycomed (then ALTANA Pharma) then rose to the challenge and created the Nycomed (ALTANA Pharma) Family Medicine Scholarship to help put at least 25 more family doctors into the system over five years.

"Motivating students to pursue family medicine is critical to ensuring quality primary care across the province," says John Suk, president and CEO of Nycomed in Canada.  "As a company we try to make a positive contribution and we hope that the Nycomed scholarship will do just that."

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