Matthew Wittman Memorial Scholarship Fund
As you may know, medical school is a long journey that involves many challenges. However, there is beauty in the fact that it also affords us the privilege of practicing medicine one day. Along this journey we are tested in many ways that are new and unexpected. The pressures to excel in this field can often be overwhelming and begin to take their toll mentally. Unfortunately, amongst depression and suicide rates nationally, there is a higher risk in physicians and physicians in training. It is now becoming apparent that depression and burnout commonly begin in medical school. Data suggests that these symptoms can adversely affect the student’s health, the quality of care delivered, and possibly lead to suicide. It is quite sad how individuals who are trained to understand the importance of prioritizing mental health end up being affected by depression at a higher rate.
On February 2nd, 2017, FSU College of Medicine (FSU COM) experienced great pain and sorrow with the passing of our own, Matthew Wittman. Many of his classmates were shocked because he showed no obvious signs of depression or thoughts of suicide. However, as we were all preparing to take USMLE Step 1, we all had an idea of the immense amount of stress and pressure that he may have been feeling. During this time, many students question their ability to obtain a passing score and often seclude themselves from family and friends to fully dedicate themselves to studying. Seclusion and self-doubt are key ingredients that have led many students into depression during this time. His passing made us realize that the statistics are all too real, and we have to begin taking more steps to protect the mental health of our students.
Since Matt’s passing, FSU COM has taken great initiative in providing access to counseling and resources that promote wellness to our students. In addition to the current resources being provided, several of Matt’s classmates have created a scholarship fund in memory of Matt. After the passing of Matthew Wittman, we were able to secure over $4,000 in donations from faculty, staff, and students. The goal is to further promote awareness of mental health and provide financial relief to 2nd and 3rd-year students of FSU COM as they prepare for their USMLE board exams. The fund must reach $25,000 to be fully endowed at which time it will provide a yearly scholarship to students personally affected by mental health conditions and/or are interested in raising awareness about mental health.
The scholarship will be another resource to provide support and promote wellness for students at FSU COM. With this scholarship, the sweet memory of our dear friend and classmate will live on and serve as a reminder to future students to make their own mental health and mental health awareness a priority.
Please help us fund this scholarship with a donation, a one-time donation or pledge over an extended period of time.