Founded in 1958, the Houston Medical Forum is a component society of the National Medical Association. As an organization consisting predominantly of black physicians, its mission is to promote the art and science of medicine, stimulate engagement in the community, and foster relationship among its members.
Its members also include resident physicians and medical students, and the organization strongly believes in supporting these young physicians during training. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Abiola Odejimi, a medical student in the Baylor College of Medicine Class of 2016. She is the recipient of a Houston Medical Forum scholarship.
How have you been involved in the Houston Medical Forum as a medical student?
I have attended several meetings hosted by the Houston Medical Forum in which they invited physicians to speak on various topics of interest to those in the medical profession. These topics have included promoting diabetes awareness in the black community, technological advancements in surgery, innovations in patient care, and the business of medicine.
The Houston Medical Forum has provided me with opportunities to network with not only other members, but also with physicians from other black medical societies in Houston, including the Mary Susan Moore Medical Society.
Tell us about scholarship programs sponsored by the Houston Medical Forum.
For 25 years, the Houston Medical Forum has provided scholarships to deserving Houston medical students in order to better serve the community. They provide scholarships for highly qualified medical students with financial need from schools such as Baylor College of Medicine, UT Houston Medical School, and UTMB in Galveston. The scholarships are funded by philanthropic support from local physicians and businesses.
What is involved in the application process?
Students must submit an application form, a short essay on their career aspirations and desire for the scholarship, and their academic transcript.
What did you find most challenging about applying for the scholarship?
I had previously applied for this scholarship in my second year of medical school. However, at that time I was not accepted and felt discouraged. When I reapplied as a third year student, and was then accepted I learned that although second-, third-, and fourth-year medical students are eligible to apply, most scholarship recipients are in their third or fourth year of school. Members of the scholarship committee have stated that if you apply and are not accepted as a second or third year student, it is highly encouraged to reapply as a senior medical student.
What recommendations do you have for others seeking scholarship support during medical school?
My biggest piece of advice to other medical students is to try. I very much understand that medical school is challenging in many ways and at times it feels as though your time and attention are being pulled are several different directions. It can sometimes be difficult to find time to allocate to scholarship applications. However, through my experiences I have learned even if you only have time for one or two scholarship applications, being selected as a recipient is often in your favor because many medical students do not apply for these opportunities due to time constraints.