17 medical students named 2022 Gold Student Summer Fellows

Gold Foundation funds 9 summer projects designed to broaden the reaches of humanistic care for underserved communities

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is pleased to announce that 17 medical students have been selected as 2022 Gold Student Summer Fellows, launching summer projects to magnify humanism in healthcare and help address health inequities. Each of the 9 projects was selected for their focus on underserved communities.

This year’s projects range in scope and topic, including:

  • Creating patient education tools for self-management workshops to improve health outcomes in people experiencing incarceration and chronic health conditions in Los Angeles, CA
  • Designing a pilot program that addresses barriers to early antenatal care identified within a rural Georgia community’s maternity clinic
  • Supporting youth with acute mental health needs by adding therapeutic value to when they are seen in the emergency department
  • Building a program that empowers parents who are migrants and improves the lives of forcibly displaced youth through mental health education
  • Improving the health of Central Florida’s underserved patient populations by training and empowering future healthcare leaders from within their communities, increasing access to effective mental health services and reducing consequential gaps in health literacy
  • Applying virtual reality-based online and in-person hybrid curriculum to train certified nursing assistants (CNAs) about the realities of living with dementia
  • Expanding healthcare access for postpartum women in rural Vermont with a mobile health vehicle
  • Creating a sustainable pathway program for young people from underserved communities in southern New Jersey to successfully integrate into medical/health-related careers
  • Surveying and seeking to better understand the use of home remedies and traditional medicine by patients before their entry into the emergency department in Riobamba, Ecuador

The Gold Foundation offers Gold Student Summer Fellowships annually to provide an opportunity for medical students to deepen their understanding of the challenges of health inequities, to enhance culturally responsive practice, and to address community health needs. These initiatives, which can be either research or service projects, help students to develop skills to become relationship-centered physicians while addressing a public health need in an underserved population. The Gold Foundation is grateful to the Mellam Family Foundation for its support of this program.

“We are delighted to be funding these critical projects at a time of great challenge and opportunity for healthcare,” said Ann Bruder, Associate Vice President of Programs at the Gold Foundation. “Each of these student fellowships focus on improving the lives of underserved and underrepresented patient populations. They were designed with the specific purpose of enriching community health while offering students an opportunity to immerse themselves in and learn from the lived experience of patients and families. We have 17 reasons to believe in healthcare’s future.”

The 17 Gold Student Summer Fellows this year hail from 9 medical schools from all across America:

Abbygale Willging, M2 | University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Survey of Traditional Home Remedy Use in Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department in Riobamba, Ecuador

This research project calls attention to the cultural values that inform and barriers to care that can arise when Ecuadorian patients seek non-western home remedies and traditional medicine before presenting at the Emergency Department. Second-year medical student Abbygale Willging aims to humanize these traditions, which have often been discounted by western medicine. Through 100 surveys of emergency department patients, she hopes to better understand and establish a reference point for the current uses and values behind home remedies and traditional medicine in Riobamba, a small city in the Chimborazo Region of Ecuador. The World Health Organization has advocated for a broad-based approach that supports both traditional medicine and modern western medicine in its summary goals for this country of considerable diversity and marginalized indigenous identities. This project can assist in providing strong evidence-based research on the variability and frequency of traditional practices, which can in turn serve as a foundation for future integration of these practices into a holistic model of healthcare.

Preethi Reddi, M3 | Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia

A Community-Based Approach to Addressing the Rural Georgia Maternal Health Crisis by Understanding Barriers to Early Antenatal Care

This research project proposes a community-based approach to addressing Georgia’s ranking as the U.S. state with the second-highest maternal mortality rate, 48.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. There have also been significant findings that Black mothers and rural areas are being disproportionately affected by this crisis due to a cascading series of barriers, many of which are geographic, in establishing early antenatal care. In achieving this end, surveys of patients from the Southeast Georgia Health System (SGHS) Brunswick Campus’s obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) clinic will help to identify the health behaviors and experiences that may contribute to barriers in establishing early antenatal care. The clinic notably serves a population of 16,122 people (55% Black individuals). Based on the results of these interviews, a pilot program for future implementation in Brunswick, Georgia, will be developed.

Maylis Basturk, M2 | Keck School of Medicine – University of Southern California  

Transitions in Health: Creating Patient Education Tools for Self-Management Workshops to Improve Health Outcomes in People Experiencing Incarceration and Chronic Health Conditions in Los Angeles

This service project seeks to address prevailing research findings, which reveal that of inmates re-entering society, nearly 80% have a chronic health condition that requires self-management and consistent primary care. In the first two weeks of their release, when healthcare competes with many different priorities for their time, former prisoners are at a 12-fold increased risk for death. Second-year medical student Maylis Basturk is conducting the project after creating the Keck Transitions in Health Program (KTHP) at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California in January 2022. KTHP envisions University of Southern California medical students partnering with people experiencing incarceration and chronic health conditions in their re-entry from Los Angeles County Jail. The project’s overall mission is to provide assistance in health transition planning and self-management programming around heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. The use of educational tools and both group and individual self-management workshops will address a wide range of common chronic health conditions and provide community health referrals. The ultimate goal is to provide compassion through a shared-decision making process that advances survival and well-being.

Mollie Marr, M4| Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine

Creating a Care Pathway for Children and Adolescents Presenting with Self-harm or Suicidality

This service project by Mollie Marr, PhD, a fourth-year medical student, aims to implement care pathways to address the distinct needs of a staggering increase in youth seeking treatment in acute care settings, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The severe difficulties accessing intensive outpatient and inpatient psychiatric services for youth are compounding. This is especially true of members of vulnerable and underserved communities who present to the emergency department with suicidal thinking, suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-harm. Care pathways can help to better address the limitations of treatment settings by providing patient-, staff-, and milieu-level interventions for improvement to care based on the specific needs of a given population. Most specifically, for youth presenting with acute mental health needs, medical team members and staff can provide developmentally appropriate foundational psychoeducation and early intervention as they wait for access to higher levels of care. This project will create psychoeducational tools for youth and families along with trauma-informed training materials for emergency medicine and inpatient pediatrics staff members, all guided by the needs and input of patients and families.

Atreyi Saha, M3 | Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Project HOME: Healing Our Community through Mental Health Education

This service project seeks to address the local resource concerns of a growing worldwide refugee crisis, specifically as they pertain to the resettling of refugees and asylum seekers in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley. As of 2021, there have been nearly 84 million individuals displaced from their homes around the world. Of this total, 35 million global refugees are children. In the past few months, Roanoke Valley has welcomed over 150 new individuals in response to the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, along with more people who have been displaced from Nepal, Honduras, and other countries. The emotional cost of migration is palpable. Refugees, asylum seekers, and other forcibly displaced individuals experience serious migration-related emotional stressors. The most frequent diagnoses include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety with sleep disorders, and depression. The group most often affected are forcibly displaced youth. They are at a significant risk of developing psychological problems as compared to their non-displaced peers. This project has three objectives: 1) establish a coalition of community partners committed to supporting the mental health of refugees and other displaced individuals, 2) host culturally sensitive workshops focused on these mental health concerns, and 3) create service opportunities for medical trainees to serve an under-resourced community and help them begin to heal.

Johanna Balas, M4 | Rush University

Implementing a Virtual Reality Training Program for CNAs Providing Care for Persons with Dementia

This service project will integrate a virtual reality (VR)-based online and in-person hybrid curriculum in the training of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) from Chicago Methodist Senior Services, a nonprofit offering memory care and long-term skilled nursing for older adults. More than 50% of residents in long-term care facilities have some form of dementia or cognitive impairment. Additionally, a growing body of research suggests that Black adults in the U.S. possess greater than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In long-term care facilities, more than 90% of CNAs are women, more than 50% are people of color, and more than one-third are Black individuals.  Although CNAs provide the most direct care, they are often among the most under-resourced and undertrained front-line workers. The VR training experience will enable CNAs to see the world through a patient’s eyes and understand better what it is like to experience dementia. The curriculum is designed to instill empathy and confidence in CNAs as they serve as primary caregivers and often provide the most meaningful daily human contact with their patients. A successful pilot program in summer 2020 showed that traditional didactic lectures with VR-based curriculum provided multidimensional learning and peer support for participating CNAs. This project continues that work by developing sustainable training program for CNAs and memory care directors.

Richard Vuong, M2, and Lindsay Aldrich, M2 | Larner College of Medicine at University of Vermont

U-Health: Expanding Healthcare Access for Postpartum Women in Rural Vermont with a Mobile Health Vehicle

This service project plans to bring a doctor’s office to new mothers through a new mobile health vehicle (MHV) to help ensure they receive critical postpartum care and other appointments. At the University of Vermont Medical Center hospital, only 56% of women who gave birth attended a postpartum visit within 60 days of giving birth, according to one 2015-2017 study. A Vermont Department of Health survey found that approximately 65% of respondents identified transportation issues as a cause for missing pregnancy-related or perinatal healthcare appointments. In response, U-Heath aims to widen postpartum women’s healthcare access in rural Vermont, targeting Rutland County and a tri-county area known as the Northeast Kingdom, due in large part to the region’s formidable health disparities and transportation barriers. The U-Health MHV will be designed and built through an interprofessional collaboration among a UVM engineering team, the Vermont Department of Health, and the UVM Medical Center. The implementation of the U-Health MHV will include practitioners from the UVM Health Network Family Medicine Services and volunteers who will include UVM medical and nursing students, as well as community organizations in the target counties. The project’s patient-centered design will create a new physical space for postpartum check-ups for mothers and new ways to improve care.

David Guadarrama, M2, Brianna Leonardo, M2, and Bijan Roghanchi, M2 | Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Pathway Programs 2022

This service project is designed to meet a dire need in the education of high school students in New Jersey’s Salem County around careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). The project will be conducted over an eight-week period, in which various learning opportunities focused on health-related careers will be provided free-of-cost to participating students. These classes will be administered in a community space, and in partnership with a local nonprofit organization, Birds Eye Family center. One of the many academic opportunities that will be extended to students will be a trip to the Rowan School of Medicine campus, where they will explore the anatomy laboratory, simulation center and other facilities. The curriculum will include personal leadership development and interactive lessons on topics such as nutrition. In addition, advising and mentoring will be offered through two nonprofits and certain Rowan School of Medicine departments, such as admissions, financial aid, and student affairs. The researchers hope to create a program that can expand into neighboring counties and school districts in the years to come.









Yamilet Gonzalez, M3, Etta Conteh, M3, Muneeza Rashid, M2, Ana Carrazana, M2, Hannah Wilson, M2, and Anela Carrazana, M2 | University of Central Florida College of Medicine

M.E.D.S: Healing Our Community Through Youth Empowerment and Knowledge

This service project addresses the lack of diversity among physicians, which correlates with poor healthcare outcomes among patients of color. There is a staggering gap in diversity among medical school students in the Central Florida region, the focus area of this project. AAMC Diversity in Medicine data shows that only 7.1% and 6.2% of medical students identify as Black or Hispanic/Latinx, respectively, compared with 24.5% Black and 32.6% Hispanic/Latinx residents in the region overall. In response, the study researchers developed M.E.D.S. (Medical Enrichment for Diverse Students), an innovative Orlando-based student-led mentoring program that addresses a growing need for diverse healthcare workers through the extension of pivotal educational opportunities for students with socioeconomic disadvantages. The M.E.D.S. program will run from late May to early August and include 1-in-1 mentoring sessions, therapy services, community service projects, and health disparities workshops. Over the long term, this project aims to improve the health of underserved patient populations in Central Florida through empowering and training future healthcare leaders from within these communities.

Learn more about Gold Student Summer Fellowships. If you are interested in supporting or endowing a fellowship, please reach out to Pia Pyne Miller at pmiller@gold-foundation.org.

Irene Zampetoulas, MPA

Communications Associate

Supports the Foundation's marketing and communications initiatives, including writing stories, updating social media, crafting our messages, and more.