by Kate Alfano, CMS Director of Communications and Marketing

The Gilchrist Scholarship Committee has named three scholars for 2022: Monica Patten, Jacob Leary and Jimmy Rager. In recognition of their outstanding achievements, they received unrestricted monetary awards to aid them in their medical education. All three awardees served on the CMS Board of Directors and as CMS Medical Student Component leaders for their medical schools.

Jacob Leary was awarded his medical degree by the University of Colorado School of Medicine in May and began his internal medicine residency at the University of Washington in June. Jacob has a special interest in suicide prevention and during his medical school years completed a special media project on the importance of firearm awareness for the CU Colorado Springs Branch. He successfully navigated the political sensitivity of the issue, met with stakeholders and wrote a video script that rose above politics to emphasize the public health need for firearm safety.

“This project and my time with CMS taught me how to leverage with people and create compromise to meet a goal,” Leary said. “We serve and represent all in Colorado and public policy won’t always be a linear process.”

Monica Patten is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She helped increase student membership at CU by advocating for membership to be “opt out” instead of “opt in.” Monica has done considerable work in voter registration and wrote an article for Colorado Medicine about the importance of voting. She was also active in engaging medical students in maintaining confidentiality in peer assistance counseling. Monica established the first LGBTQ+ group at CU and was part of the board that started the educational hub that reaches the entire campus. She also completed a research project in suicide among LGBTQ+ persons.

“I was interested in CMS as soon as I began my first year because I wanted to be involved in anything to do with advocacy and policy related to physicians,” Patten said. “I’ve realized throughout medical school that advocacy and policy are important to me and, surprising to some people, it’s one of the things that helps me prevent burnout. Through my experience at CMS, I have a clear understanding of how to be an effective advocate and how to continue advocacy in my future career, whereas before I didn’t know how policy and practice would overlap. CMS has connected me with many physicians who have done that successfully.”

Jimmy Rager is a fourth-year medical student at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He worked with Monica on the opt-out policy to increase medical student memberships in CMS and has seen great gains in CMS memberships and memberships in the American Medical Association: 100 percent RVU membership in CMS and 80 percent membership in the AMA. Jimmy authored evidence-based guidelines for cornea donations and managed to affect the policy at the Food and Drug Administration and the AMA. He also led a COVID-19 vaccination drive in 2021 among medical students. He’s currently advocating on behalf of DO students who do rotations through CUSOM, working to change policies he feels are discriminatory.

“CMS has been amazing,” Rager said. “It has taught me leadership skills and helped me forge connections in Colorado. I’ve learned about policy and legislation and through the big projects I’ve done with CMS. It has been a very valuable experience that I am grateful for.”

The Alfred D. Gilchrist Student Leader Scholarship Foundation was established in 2020 to honor former CMS CEO Alfred Gilchrist’s 40-year career of physician advocacy. This is the second year of distribution of awards. It is open to third- and fourth-year medical students who have demonstrated a significant leadership contribution to organized medicine. Preference is given to students who are active with CMS or a CMS component medical society. Contribute to the Gilchrist Scholar Fund at www.cms.org/contribute.


Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine