Stevenson Chery has been named the recipient of the 2018 VITAS Healthcare Scholarship and awarded $25,000.
The scholarship is designed to reduce the burden of medical education debt for a student at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) who successfully matched into a primary care residency program. Chery graduates this month and will continue his medical training in family medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
VITAS Healthcare is the largest provider of hospice care in the United States. Scholarship recipients must also demonstrate a deep appreciation for the needs of terminally ill patients and their families through a submitted essay, and Chery’s paper clearly impressed VITAS Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Joel Policzer.
“Stevenson has already identified that in his culture there is a human need of preparing for end of life that is not being addressed, and he is developing ways of meeting that need in a culturally appropriate fashion,” Policzer says. “This early on in his training, that shows incredible maturity, and we need to support him.”
In his winning essay, Chery, who is Haitian, reflected on his family’s shock and despair upon the death of his grandmother, even though she’d been bedridden for two years.
“In a country where life expectancy hovered in the early to mid-50s during my upbringing, death was the norm, but it was never talked about. End of life care was not a topic that I had even heard of prior to moving to the United States from Haiti in 2004,” he wrote.
Chery hopes to help change that by incorporating end of life care into the services provided by KORE Haiti, a non-profit organization he and two of his classmates founded in their first year of medical school to sponsor medical mission trips to Haiti. The organization applies the concept of social determinants of health that the students learned at HWCOM, while offering health education and medical care to people who in many cases have never seen a doctor or health care provider.