My name is Adam Mayo Bartholomeo. I am a proud Watertown native, a 2nd year medical student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and President of the Medical-Dental Student Government at the University of Connecticut Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for all your support and funding for UConn Health over the years. The regular investments made to the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine have been incredible in transforming UConn into a true flagship institution. With the new curriculum, new academic wing, and increased research opportunities for students, UConn stands at the forefront of the future of medical education. I urge you all to come to Farmington and check out the campus if you have not been there in a while.
There are many challenges with the current budget deficits that the State of Connecticut is facing, but I want to use this opportunity to implore you to minimize any cuts to the UConn Health Center.
I chose to attend UConn School of Medicine because almost immediately upon interviewing here I knew that it felt like home. Connecticut is where I belong. I chose UConn over several other medical schools across the country because I truly felt the education here was something unique and personable. The medical and dental curriculum goes beyond just teaching us the factual base necessary to become knowledgeable physicians, but pushes us to apply this knowledge from day one in real world situations through community, research, and clinical engagement opportunities.
One of my most rewarding experience thus far has been through UConn Health’s Urban Scholar Track (UST), which is a unique opportunity to work with underserved populations on an interdisciplinary health profession team. UST, a CT AHEC program that works in collaboration with the state, UConn School of Medicine and the federal government , has Urban Health Scholars that come from 2 Universities, 4 campuses and 6 health professions schools.
In my first event, we worked with Sickle Cell Disease patients in the Greater Hartford community, and it really emphasized to me the importance of engaging the community as a health care provider. As the event unfolded, I was immediately humbled as I began conversing with the children, families and individuals affected by Sickle Cell Disease. We all ate lunch together while elders in the community played traditional African drum music. The children shared their personal stories confiding in us their memories, pains, and worries about living with Sickle Cell Disease. I enjoyed every minute of building a rapport with the community, and soon realized that I was learning more from them than I was educating them. In fact, the greatest impact I had that day was not through the basic healthcare screening and educational materials, but through forming connections and getting to know these people personally. I grew as a health care provider because it strengthened my appreciation for medicine as a shared experience rather than just an individual service.
These learning enhancement opportunities outside the traditional curriculum are essential for students to become excellent future doctors, and make a real difference to the community. They allow us to form an early bond with the community making us more likely to stay and practice here in the State. In fact, about 85% of students from the SOM are CT residents. Why is this important? CT residents who attend UConn SoM and engage in the community are more likely to stay and practice here in the State. Moreover, factoring in UST, of the 550 students that have participated in UST during its 10 years, more than half are pursuing training in primary care – something Connecticut truly needs!
The level of cuts proposed could make UConn SOM/DM unaffordable for many students/families, potentially shut down programs like UST, and drive excellent students and our future workforce away from the state, perhaps permanently. Connecticut needs knowledgeable doctors, and an investment in UConn SoM/DM is an investment in CT’s own workforce.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you regarding continued support for UConn Health. I urge you to find a way to restore these impending cuts so UConn Health can continue to provide these important benefits and opportunities to the students and patients in our communities.