Friday, July 3, 2009

Medical School Scholarships


A few days ago, the WI ME/CFS Association announced that we were able
to offer the Friedman Scholarship to second year medical students in
Madison, Wisconsin.

Just prior to this I had a most enlightening conversation with Betty
McConnell, a long time children's advocate from New Jersey. She has
been working with families and their kids with ME/CFS AND keeping
records for over 10 years. The NJ group has a long list of firsts and
among them is this pioneering of work with kids. As you know, more
attention is on children with the new case definition, a bit more
research and controversy.

During  our conversation, Betty told me that the medical scholarship
was an idea she had many years ago, but she was too sick to follow
through, so Dr. Ken Friedman and the NJ board took over to figure out
the logistics of how to make it happen. Here is an example what state
groups can do. It is slow. It is hard, but they got it done. Dr.
Friedman presented the medical scholarship idea at the CFSAC  a few
years ago and I picked up information. From this point it took us two
years to talk about it, to get the University medical school okay,
and to adapt the NJ documents to Wisconsin.

In the meantime, other state groups began the process. (If I could
remember which groups or what stages they are at I would name them.)
Basically, students write on a challenge question about ME/CFS and
the best research essay wins the scholarship. This gives the
community X number of CFS  educated students who will turn up in a
few years in a clinic to help us.  In addition, to keep the
scholarship going, money must be raised, but it is much easier to do
this for medical education than for other projects.

When we made the scholarship announcement, it was with pride and
relief because it is so hard to have 15 good plans and finally get
one done.  I said that the idea originated with Ken Friedman, when in
fact it was Betty and the NJ board with Ken who worked through the
process. Betty and I talked about getting credit and she is not one
who seeks it. I think it is not a matter of credit, but fact finding;
hence I amend our announcement.

LASTLY, other states can adopt and adapt the same idea because we
have a pattern to follow and people to ask about how to follow the
process. Imagine a 2009 where state to state we had ME/CFS groups
involved with collaborative efforts? Maybe because of the work
involved in organizing by people sick everyday, this is a pipe dream.
I think interested people give up because they focus on the 14 ideas
let go rather than the one followed up on, which is a win. ALL groups
and individual advocates have a piece of this advocacy, education,
helping puzzle, and no effort should go unnoticed if we can help it.
It is so hard to sustain an effort.  SO, THANKS TO YOU ALL especially
to those who maintain news lists, as well as offer patients
mechanisms to share information.


The original announcement as posted on Co-Cure a few weeks ago:

The WISCONSIN ME/CFS Association announces Medical Student
Scholarship (the Friedman Award)

The Wisconsin Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Association (WME/CFSA) is announcing the creation of the Friedman
Medical Student Scholarship Award. The purpose of this scholarship is
to encourage medical students to learn about ME, CFS, and similar
illnesses.  In naming this scholarship, our Association is honoring
Kenneth Friedman, PhD, who originated the idea of the scholarship and
who has successfully spread the idea beyond his own state of New
Jersey. Mr. Friedman has also been active in other ways in promoting
research and scholarship about ME/CFS.

The Friedman Medical Student Award is open to all students who have
completed their first year of medical school in Madison, Wisconsin,
are enrolled for their second year of medical school, and are in good
academic standing. The Friedman Award is not a financial need scholarship.

Students will write an essay answering this year's challenge question
about ME/CFS. We hope that the process of writing the essays for this
scholarship, and possibly being the winner of it, will contribute to
applicants becoming physicians better able to assist and provide
compassionate care for patients suffering from ME/ CFS and similar,
complex illnesses with no known cures.

The winner of the scholarship shall receive a $3,000 award to be
applied toward the tuition of his/her second year of medical
education. If you have any questions regarding the ME/CFS Medical
Student Scholarship application, the WME/CFSA, please contact Pat
Fero, MEPD, Executive Director of the Wisconsin ME/CFS Association at  or (608) 834 1001, or (608) 837 9540


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