Student Doctor Kathleen McDermott (’23) has been awarded HRSA’s National Health Service Corp Scholarship — a full scholarship for medical students committed to providing care in underserved areas. From Cary, North Carolina, SD McDermott is a graduate of the UNC School of Public Health and a Fellow of the State of North Carolina Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
McDermott comes from a legacy of public service; her father was a social worker and her mother works for the state in public health. She was familiar with the Health Service Corp growing up thanks to a family friend who was a Health Service Corp scholar in psychiatry.
“She loved her experience; she was grateful for the financial support, but also she just really loved her experience in the places she got to work.”
McDermott also worked on a HRSA funded project focused on trying to improve cure rates for patients co-infected with HIV and Hepatitis C. The combination of family-friend legacy and experience lead her to pursue the scholarship and gave her a passion for public health.
“Through my undergraduate research, I saw both sides: I saw priorities from a top-down approach – what they want to accomplish, but then also what is feasible in a clinic and what can actually get done. I think we need more people to stay in that space to help ensure public health interventions are realistic and actually doable.”
“My big passion is community mental health. I am considering Family Medicine or Psychiatry. If I don’t pursue Psychiatry as my speciality, I really want to have some role in normalizing mental health services and integrating them into primary care as much as possible.”
As a Health Service Corp Scholar, McDermott will have the opportunity to match into any primary care residency she pursues, and after completing residency, she will complete her service by working in clinic or hospital that meets the HRSA score requirement.
“The places you get matched with through the Corp for practice are the places where you’re going to have the freedom to do innovative things to advance patient care. Often, you are the only access point for your patients in the entire service.”
“As doctors, we really should do our best to understand our patient’s individual situations. They asked in the scholarship essays, ‘what does patient centered care mean to you?’. You have to understand where your patient is at in that moment in time, what they need, and what they need might not be what you want them to or what they can do at that time.”
“I was a Health and Wellness coordinator at the Community Care Clinic, and I learned, from one county to the next, resources are very different. Because of that experience, I will make a point of learning what resources are available. I hope to apply my research experience and public health experiences through the Corp to identify opportunities to improve health care delivery not just for my patients, but all patients.”
McDermott joins another Campbell Medicine physician who received this scholarship – Dr. Elizabeth Gibbs (’17), from Asheville, NC, is currently fulfilling her Health Service Corp commitment at an FQHC in Los Angeles, CA.