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Medical Student Michael Schafer is Chosen
for Award for Leadership, Community Efforts

Contact Tammy J. Gay

Michael Schafer

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Schafer was one of only four scholars chosen this year. Pisacano Scholars are physicians-in-training who have chosen family practice as their specialty and have demonstrated leadership skills, academic achievement, and a level of community service.

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Oct. 15, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- In his first year of medical school, Michael Schafer, class of 2003, joined a group of students to expand and improve the student-run clinic at the Salvation Army in Lexington. He didn't know this community service project would lead to a reward a couple of years later.

This year, Schafer was honored as a Pisacano Scholar - the first in the college's history. The national honor is named for Nicholas J. Pisacano who actually held many positions at UK, including: member of the Board of Trustees, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, director of continuing medical education at the UK Chandler Medical Center, and assistant to the vice president at the Medical Center. He came to UK in 1962 and was voted UK's most popular professor in 1965.

Pisacano helped the field of family practice become one of the major specialties in medicine. When the American Board of Family Practice was founded in 1969, he became the organization's first executive director and remained so until January 1990.

Schafer was one of only four scholars chosen this year. Pisacano Scholars are physicians-in-training who have chosen family practice as their specialty and have demonstrated leadership skills, academic achievement, and a level of community service.

"I have worked primarily in industry or some type of service capacity for most of my life," Schafer said. "From this I have learned that the most effective way to lead is to be of service. I believe that this type of leadership philosophy and my experiences in leading church ministries and the reorganization of a medical student-run free clinic are part of the reason I was chosen to be a Pisacano Scholar."

With the help of Schafer, UK's medical students were able to raise approximately $70,000 in grants and private donations so services could be expanded at the Salvation Army Student-Run Free Clinic.

Established in 1986, the clinic offers free medical care to residents of the Salvation Army Clinic and others who can't afford care. It's open from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and generally serves up to 10 patients a night. Medical students and an attending physician staff the clinic.

"We didn't want to wait until we graduated to help people," Schafer said. "We saw all of the wonderful things going on at the Salvation Army Clinic and wanted to build on what was already a success story.

"By bringing students on board in the first year, we hope to give them a sense of ownership in the clinic from the start of their medical school career and provide better continuity," Schafer said.

Faculty at UK are not surprised by Schafer's success.

"Mike has all the characteristics of being a Nicholas Pisacano Scholar," said Wanda Gonsalves, residency director and assistant professor of family practice in the UK College of Medicine, who helped guide the medical students to the Salvation Army Clinic project.
"He is extremely bright, he has excellent leadership skills, with the ability to empower others to achieve the common good for themselves and for the community, and he is genuinely caring," Gonsalves said. "I can't think of one more deserving."

After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in biology from Northern Kentucky University, Schafer was a minister for a year in his hometown. Before going to medical school, Schafer also worked for five years as a senior research associate with Proctor & Gamble, where he was the co-inventor of four patents.
For his efforts, Schafer was awarded the community service award from the UK College of Medicine. In addition, he assisted UK's residency program director in developing a community/service-learning elective, the first of its kind for UK.

He has authored a number of presentations, including co-authoring a proposal to the Kentucky Legislature last year to obtain funding for a family practice faculty member to work with the medical students at the Student-Run Free Clinic and the Kentucky Free Clinic Association.

Schafer and other Pisacano Scholars will meet with some of the best-known leaders in family practice during his last year of medical school and during his residency.

In the future, Schafer wants to complete his residency in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area and practice near his hometown in Alexandria, Ky.


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