For Kristen Wong, studying medicine has always been the plan. “I love the idea of taking care of people, helping them directly, having continuity of care and building a long-term relationship with them,” she explained. In pursuit of her dream, she began eagerly attending Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, but soon realized something was missing. She needed another skill to be an effective physician – Spanish.
Wong, who already spoke English, Mandarin, Cantonese and a little French, found that the patient population she was trying to serve in the hospital was heavily Hispanic. “I realized that if I really wanted to take care of my patients respectfully, I needed to learn Spanish,” she said. And that’s what she’s set out to do, with the help of the Next Generation Scholarship from Summit Medical Group Foundation.
Wong’s scholarship afforded her the ability to take a one-month, immersive course learning medical Spanish in Costa Rica. When she returned to medical school, the scholarship funds also allowed her to continue taking Spanish, maintaining the language she had learned in Costa Rica and increasing her vocabulary to encompass conversational language needed to effectively communicate with patients in the hospital.
The honor of being awarded the Next Generation Scholarship from Summit Medical Group Foundation is not lost on Wong, but it had increased meaning because of a life-long role model from Summit Medical Group. Dr. Kerry LeBenger had been treating Wong’s family’s allergies at SMG for more than two decades. Wong took note of his constant support and the benefits her family received with his continuity of care for two generations. “It was amazing that this group I’ve been seeing my entire life (SMG) was helping invest in me!” Wong remarked. “I was really honored.”
This summer, Wong will begin an internal medicine residency at her top choice – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She hopes to specialize in cardiology. “The heart is an amazing organ,” she beamed. And hers is in the right place.
Summit Medical Group Foundation (SMGF) is committed to supporting undergraduate and graduate students who seek a career in healthcare to enrich their lives and the lives of those in the communities they will serve. Through scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000, SMGF helps lessen the financial burden of college and additional medical training, freeing students to focus on their ambitious career paths in healthcare.
To date, SMGF has awarded more than $170,000 worth of scholarships, and this year, we look forward to providing more! Applications have closed for scholarships for 2018 and will open again in Spring 2019. To be eligible, students must be pursuing a career in healthcare, in good academic standing in an accredited program, have a primary residency in New Jersey and have proof of enrollment (if scholarship is awarded).