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Bethel Mesgana: Recipient of the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship

 The XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship was established at UC Irvine in 2004 and is awarded each year to two UCI seniors who are “committed  to ethnical leadership, peace, and positive global relations.”  If chosen, the students are each given $7,500 as well as an additional $2,500 to create a new undergraduate course at UC Irvine and a public forum.

     Think back to your last doctor’s visit. Did your doctor care about you as a patient, or even as a person? UC Irvine Senior and one of two recipients of the 2010-11 XIV Dalai Lama Scholarship, Bethel Mesgana, believes that doctors must show empathy towards their patients, rather than treat them as business transactions.
      Bethel is a firm believer in the holistic approach to medicine, which requires the doctor to tend to all aspects of a patient’s needs: psychological, physical, social, and mental. Through the holistic approach, the patient is expected to feel more comfortable and at ease during his or her visit. The doctor also benefits from this interaction because he or she will truly see the difference made in the patient’s wellbeing and overall health.

      Bethel has seen the influence that compassion has on patients through the work of her parents and her cardiologist, Dr. Grady. In the community-like country of Ethiopia, Bethel’s parents take ill individuals under their wing and help them gain the strength to defeat their illnesses. Often times, their patients come back to thank them for their help later in their lives. Bethel describes this as a truly rewarding experience.

      With the money provided by the 2010-2011 XIV Dalai Lama Scholarship, recipients Bethel Mesgana and Doug Cheung have chosen to create a seminar for undergraduate students called “Compassion in Medicine.” The course is modeled after Biology 92 and will take place during Spring 2011 quarter. The aim of this seminar is to help biology majors, who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, get familiarized with a compassionate and holistic form of patient care. Through this seminar, Bethel hopes to motivate future doctors to care about their patients and truly change the world of healthcare. She makes the point that sometimes students become so consumed in all of their coursework, they lose sight of the true purpose of medicine: helping people. She hopes that this seminar will bring students back to that purpose.

      The seminar will have several different professors come in every week to speak about topics such as Elder Abuse and Neglect, HIV and Women, Patient Relationships, and Psychiatry and Spirituality. Patients and their families will also come in to talk about their experiences. Bethel  hopes that these real life experiences and tales of doctor/patient relationships will motivate students to emulate the holistic model of medicine when they obtain their M.D.

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