May 9, 2019 – VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, announced that Dr. Bu Jung Kim, a recent graduate at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM), is the recipient of its 2019 VITAS Healthcare Scholarship for $25,000.
Dr. Kim is the fourth recipient of the VITAS Healthcare Scholarship over the past four years, who demonstrated a deep appreciation for the needs of terminally ill patients and their families through a submitted essay. The VITAS scholarship is designed to reduce the burden of medical education debt for a graduating student at HWCOM who successfully matched into a primary care residency program.
“Dr. Kim’s education, life experiences and his ability to perceive end-of-life patients as people in need of comfort are the traits we seek in physicians who specialize in hospice and palliative medicine,” said Joel S. Policzer, MD, VITAS senior vice president of medical affairs. “VITAS is honored to support students like Dr. Kim who understand firsthand the value of compassionate end-of-life care.”
“The HWCOM curriculum emphasizes the centerpiece role of empathy and compassion in the practice of medicine. Dr. Kim represents, by his actions and deeds, the very highest ideal in this regard,” says Dr. Robert Sackstein, HWCOM Dean and Vice-President for Health Affairs.
In his winning essay, Dr. Kim described his volunteer experiences at a South Korean leper colony as opening his eyes to the value of comfort-focused, patient-centered care.
“The patients I served were 50 to 90 years old who had suffered from many different symptoms related to leprosy,” Dr. Kim says. “It was a humbling experience to serve the elderly patients who had so many complications from the disease.”
At FIU, an introduction to end-of-life care during his second year of medical school, and an opportunity to serve a week-long rotation with Dr. Policzer sparked Kim’s interest in hospice and palliative care as specialties.
“Getting help, making it a priority to provide comfort to patients, prioritizing the treatment of patients as whole persons—I feel that’s a good way of practicing medicine,” says Dr. Kim. “It’s very meaningful and significant to be able to help patients spend their last moments of life comfortably, leaving good memories for their families and friends.”
Dr. Kim, who graduated in April, will continue his medical training in family medicine at Geisinger Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA.