Honoring ten students across the country each year, the program provides scholarship funding and career development opportunities to medical students pursuing family medicine as a specialty. Recipients must demonstrate leadership skills, academic excellence and community service, among other requirements.
For Lusk, who is from Covel, West Virginia, a rural town with a population that hovers around 150 residents, according to the U.S. Census, she’s experienced the leadership of family medicine providers, not just as healers but as community helpers. She credits those physicians with inspiring her to pursue her Family Medicine residency at WVU upon graduation this December.
“The family medicine physician is a community leader,” Lusk said. “Many health issues stem from a patient’s access to care and resources. Everything from water quality to food access and reliability will impact a person’s mental and physical well-being, and I want to center my career around improving the entire patient experience.”
Lusk is only the second West Virginia University student to ever earn the honor. Darrin Nichols, M.D., earned the distinction in 2016.
A native West Virginian and WVU alumnus, she is part of the Rural and MATTER tracks within the School of Medicine, and has dedicated her time at the University to service, learning and outreach opportunities within the state.
Understanding obstacles and advocating for the patient at such a young stage in her career are just a few of the qualities that make Lusk an ideal candidate for the Pisacano program, according to Treah Haggerty, M.D., co-director of the School’s Rural Track.
“Savannah embodies the qualities we hope our program instills in students – patient-first care that leads with compassion and empathy to ensure the best outcomes possible,” Dr. Haggerty said.
The American Board of Family Practice established the program in tribute to Dr. Nicolas Pisacano, who is credited as elevating and advocating for Family Medicine as a specialty practice.
“Dr. Pisacano embodied what it means to be a family medicine doctor and treat patients holistically,” said Lusk. “It’s an honor to be named to a program that cultivates these values and provides creative ways to mitigate some of the difficult healthcare issues we face as a country.”
Looking towards the future, Lusk hopes to implement programs that create healthy and strong communities.
“I would love to create a health organization centered around holistic care of patients,” Lusk said. “I want to create a community where I am able to exercise my love for public health and be able to create positive interventions in these people’s lives where we work together to make each other healthy.”
To learn more about the Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program, visit https://pisacano.org. To learn more about the School of Medicine, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu.
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WVU School of Medicine