By Bill Eagle
Valley Bugler Columnist
Not long ago, we took a busload of teens to Doernbecher Children’s hospital. It was an event called “Kiwanis Day at Doernbecher” sponsored by KDCCP. KDCCP stands for Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program. I am pleased to say that I have been a member of this organization since 2000.
Kiwanis involvement with Doernbecher started in the late 1980’s. They raised money for various children’s hospital projects, including an ambulance transport system designed just for children. Early on, a group of Kiwanians saw a need for a bone marrow transplant facility at the hospital. They raised money, lobbied for political support, and in 1990 started the Kiwanis Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. In 1998 they broadened their mission and became Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program. KDCCP is a 501(c) 3 and all donations are tax deductible. Each year, KDCCP invites the best and brightest young physicians to participate in an intensive three-year program to become pediatric oncology specialists. The hospital calls this their “Kiwanis Fellowship program.”
In the past, KDCCP has done a number of different things for “Doernbecher Days.” They have conducted tours, visited research labs and had opportunities to meet various doctors and other health professionals. They always have a segment where the audience listens to a former patent and their parents relate about their experience with cancer and Doernbecher Hospital. This year they got to meet Tim Haarmann, a 14 year old patient from Tigard. Tim suffered from acute myeloid leukemia and is now cancer free.
In addition to hearing patient stories, KDCCP decided to give everyone (particularly our teens) a chance to meet the people who we call Kiwanis fellows.
These doctors do both patient care, independent study and research as part of their fellowship.
KDCCP treated the audience to a Q and A session with our Kiwanis Fellows.
One question was about college. Our teens were astounded when they were told that our doctors had to look forward to more than 16 years of college, a time span that exceeded the age of many in the audience.
Some facts that seemed to astound us were that the average salary of a first year resident is $49,394 and that the maximum workweek of a first year resident is 80 hours. This equates to an hourly wage of $10 an hour.
According to the American Academy of Medical Colleges the average medical student graduates with $169,901 of debt.
I was particularly impressed with one of our Fellows, Dr. Jacob Henderson. He used to live on Whidbey Island, Washington. “Because I lived on an island, close to the water, I originally planned to become a marine Biologist,” said Dr. Henderson.
“I enrolled in Pacific Lutheran University as a Biology major with an intent to study Marine Biology, my parents were both in social work. They helped people; they helped make life better for others. This really impressed me and I thought a lot about this while I was in college. I was a good student, I involved myself with a lot of different social activities and I did quite a lot of community volunteer work at Harborview Hospital. While volunteering, it occurred to me, that the medical field was a place where I could change lives and make things better for people.”
Dr. Henderson showed a comparison chart to the audience. His GPA was 3.6; another person’s GPA was 4.0. His Medical College Application test (MCAT) score was 31. The other person’s score was 38.
Dr. Henderson was chosen for Doernbecher instead of the other higher rated person and this was primarily because of his volunteer work and his extracurricular activities.
“Doernbecher wants well-rounded people for Doctors; they want people who are involved with other people, people who care.” related Dr. Henderson.
I was impressed, my teens were impressed, and we were all gratified to know that we have a children’s hospital with doctors who really care about the welfare of their patients.
We left with a thank you from Dr. H. Stacy Nicholson, head of Pediatrics at OHSU who said, “Whenever we contribute to the cure of a child with cancer, Kiwanians are part of it.”