*Original article published by Wright State University can be found here
University of Guam (UOG) alumni and first-year medical student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Daniel Taitano was recently awarded a four-year scholarship from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). This is a federal government program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce.
The NHSC awards scholarships to medical students committed to primary care. The scholarship pays tuition, fees, other educational costs and provides a living stipend in return for a commitment to work at least two years at an NHSC-approved site in a medically underserved community. For each year of financial support, up to four years, the medical student agrees to serve one year, with a minimum of two years, at an NHSC-approved site in a high-need urban, rural or frontier community across the nation. Service begins after completion of primary care residency training.
Taitano graduated from the University of Guam in May of 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Following the completion of the program, he plans to return to Guam to help the people in his community and to fulfill the service requirements of the NHSC scholarship.
“I come from an underserved community in Guam. Due to the lack of physicians, many people in Guam have to travel across seas to acquire the proper health care they need,” Taitano said. “By going into primary care, I hope to assist with this issue by providing quality care to a general population back home.”
The NHSC scholarship means a lot to Taitano. As the first person in his family to pursue a medical degree, he is grateful for the financial assistance.
“This scholarship lifts a huge burden off my shoulders while I continue my journey to becoming a physician,” said Taitano, who plans to graduate from medical school in 2021.
Taitano’s journey began at UOG, where the a first-generation college student credits the support of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS) faculty to his success in his field.
“The CNAS professors encouraged and assisted me in securing critical opportunities like research experiences and educational seminars to further my education,” he said. “I loved being a part of a close-knit community of colleagues and faculty as well as receiving help from these individuals with great ease.”
While at UOG, he conducted biomedical research. He presented a poster at the 2012 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in San Jose, California. He also participated in the University of Virginia Summer Research Internship Program during the summer of 2013, where he conducted laboratory experiments on HIV.
“I originally planned to become a biomedical researcher,” Taitano said. “The idea of working in a lab to discover missing links that could potentially contribute to the development of therapeutic drugs and techniques was intriguing.”
However, his career plans changed when his grandmother became ill with cancer. After watching her and seeing how her physicians tried to make her as comfortable as possible, Taitano knew medicine was calling him.
“Being there for my grandmother made me feel the impact of assisting patients on a more intimate level,” he said. “I still have a passion for conducting research, but I have come to realize that I would prefer helping people as a physician. I want to be able to heal or help those tackling chronic illnesses to be comfortable in a way that they would still be able to enjoy their lives.”
He appreciated his grandmother’s doctors and credits them with inspiring him to become a doctor in addition to his grandmother.
“Because of them, my grandmother was able to share a few more laughs, see my brother and myself graduate from high school and college and create lasting memories,” he said. “By becoming a physician, I can share this feeling of hope and happiness with others.”
After graduating summa cum laude from UOG, he worked at Guam Memorial Hospital as a medical laboratory technician. This was his first experience in a clinical setting where he spent time with patients and gained insight on some of the major types of health complications in Guam, which include diabetes and sepsis.
“Guam is categorized as an area in need of health care assistance by the NHSC. It only makes sense for me to return home and assist my local community.”