Jennifer Byrd has been chosen as one of the first recipients of the E.W. Kettering Family Scholarship for Geriatric Medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine. Byrd is one of four graduating medical students at Wright State who received the $25,000 scholarship.
The Kettering scholarship is designed to encourage Wright State medical students to pursue careers in primary care medicine with an emphasis on patient care for Dayton's growing elderly population. Byrd has made a two-year commitment to practice medicine in the Dayton area after completing her residency training in family medicine at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
According to Byrd, her exposure to older people began to shape her personal and career goals early on. "I remember traveling with my grandparents' golden-ager church group called 'The Sunshine Club' when I was just a child," she explains. "My exposure to their wisdom endeared me to this population and sparked my understanding of their value."
Byrd believes that family physicians have a unique responsibility to consider the social and emotional needs of their older patients, along with their physical health.
"I hope that when I look into the eyes of my 86-year-old patient, I will pause to notice their history -- to be in awe of it, embrace it and enjoy it. Only then should I begin the physical exam," she says.
Virginia Kettering and the Kettering Family Fund endowed a $1 million scholarship at Wright State University in April 1996 to support geriatric medical education at the School of Medicine. The program was launched with scholarships awarded to Byrd and three of her classmates. In the future, two $25,000 scholarships will be awarded annually.