Dr. Bu Jung Kim, Dr. Robert Sackstein, Dr. Joel Policzer.

Bu Jung Kim, MD’19, is the recipient of the 2019 VITAS Healthcare Scholarship for $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. Kim, who received his doctor of medicine degree in April, will continue his medical training in family medicine at Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA.

VITAS Healthcare is the largest provider of hospice care in the United States. Scholarship recipients must demonstrate a deep appreciation for the needs of terminally ill patients and their families through a submitted essay.

“Dr. Kim’s education, life experiences and his ability to perceive end-of-life patients as people in need of comfort are the traits we seek in physicians who specialize in hospice and palliative medicine,” said Joel S. Policzer, MD, VITAS senior vice president of medical affairs. “VITAS is honored to support students like Dr. Kim who understand firsthand the value of compassionate end-of-life care.”

“The HWCOM curriculum emphasizes the centerpiece role of empathy and compassion in the practice of medicine. Dr. Kim represents, by his actions and deeds, the very highest ideal in this regard,” says Dr. Robert Sackstein, HWCOM Dean and Vice-President for Health Affairs.

In his winning essay, Kim described his volunteer experiences at a South Korean leper colony as opening his eyes to the value of comfort-focused, patient-centered care.

“The patients I served were 50 to 90 years old who had suffered from many different symptoms related to leprosy,” Dr. Kim says. “It was a humbling experience to serve the elderly patients who had so many complications from the disease.”

At FIU, an introduction to end-of-life care during his second year of medical school, and an opportunity to serve a week-long rotation with Policzer sparked Kim’s interest in hospice and palliative care as specialties.

“Getting help, making it a priority to provide comfort to patients, prioritizing the treatment of patients as whole persons—I feel that’s a good way of practicing medicine,” says Kim. “It’s very meaningful and significant to be able to help patients spend their last moments of life comfortably, leaving good memories for their families and friends.”