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“Little bit of support goes a long way to making a great doctor”

The School of Medicine’s 125th anniversary scholarship initiative enlists alumni to help open its doors wider to tomorrow’s top physicians
Posted January 1, 2018

This article first appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Hopkins Medicine magazine.

The cost of a medical education in the 1970s, when Paul Chew, MD (Med '77), A&S '73, attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, wasn't nearly as daunting as it is today. But he remembers with a smile how he felt the day an associate dean took him aside to tell him he'd qualified for a scholarship.

Paul Chew, MD (Med '77), A&S '73

"I was so grateful for that helping hand," says Chew, now the chief medical officer for Omada Health, a San Francisco-based digital health firm. "That little bit of cheer, little bit of support, goes a long way to making a great doctor."

That feeling, plus his gratitude to Hopkins for helping launch his career, motivated Chew to endow a scholarship in the School of Medicine after attending his 40th reunion this summer.

"It was a perfect time for me to reflect on how Hopkins has made a difference for me, to not only remember the past but commit to the future of Hopkins medicine," says Chew, who went on to serve as an assistant professor, attending physician, and director of the pacemaker clinic, among other roles at Hopkins, until 1992.

Chew made his gift as part of a new scholarship initiative coinciding with the School of Medicine's 125th anniversary in 2018. Hopkins is providing incentive support starting at $12,500 to donors pledging $87,500 or more toward scholarships. Existing endowed scholarship donors qualify for the incentive with additions of $87,500 or more to their current funds. Alumni who are 75 years old or older qualify for the incentive with a bequest or planned gift of $87,500 or more. By the end of 2018, the school aims to add $12.5 million to its scholarship endowment. 

The current cost of attendance is nearing $80,000 annually, but the School of Medicine's philanthropic resources can only provide scholarships to approximately 50 percent of students. The top reason students turn down Hopkins is because financial aid packages are more lucrative at peer institutions like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. Through this initiative, the School of Medicine seeks to ensure that Hopkins continues to be an attractive option for top medical students.

"As successful graduates of Hopkins' School of Medicine, we all owe some of our success to the way we were trained and by whom we were trained," says Chew, who after leaving Hopkins began a more than two decade career in the pharmaceutical industry with Bristol Myers Squibb, Aventis, and Sanofi-Aventis before joining Omada Health. He credits the Hopkins culture of always "looking around the corner" for new and better ways to approach medicine for inspiring many of his accomplishments, including his work with Omada focusing on the prevention, rather than treatment, of chronic disease.

"I liken the situation to a bucket of water — we tip it over, spilling out all of the diseases that could have been prevented. So far in history, we've been inventing better mops to sop up the mess. But wouldn't it be great if we could shut off the spigot and stop the bucket from tipping over in the first place?" Chew says. "This is my way of 'looking around the corner,' the way Hopkins trained me to do, and which they still do today."

Exposing more top students to this Hopkins culture, of cultivating the best of research, education, and patient care, is of paramount importance. Alumni can play a critical role in opening Hopkins' doors to those future physicians by taking part in the 125th anniversary scholarship initiative.

"We need to reach back and help the generation coming up, and continue our great Hopkins tradition of excellence," Chew says.

To learn more about the School of Medicine's 125th Anniversary scholarship initiative, please contact Chad Newill, senior director of development.