Caroline Gross is a UCLA scholarship recipient with a world view: to make sure that babies everywhere are able to take their first breath.
According to the World Health Organization, 900,000 babies die each year from birth asphyxia, or the failure to breathe at birth. This is not a common complication in the developed world, where neonatal resuscitation equipment is prevalent. However, in areas of the world like sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, where the equipment and knowledge for managing this complication isn't as readily available, these preventable deaths are all too common.
Part of the solution
Last summer, Caroline, a recipient of the David Geffen Medical Scholarship, and another student from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA visited 15 hospitals in Ghana to evaluate their practices and equipment for neonatal resuscitation. They are now coordinating the delivery of needed equipment to these sites. In conjunction with their efforts, pediatric residents from UCLA make yearly visits to hospitals in Ghana to train providers in using the equipment. The plans for Caroline's project include evaluating these efforts and providing recommendations on how to continually improve outcomes for newborns in the area.
A lifetime of preparation
Caroline's passion for medicine began early. Her father is a gastroenterologist who shared with his daughter his love of caring for patients and treating disease. She enjoyed the physician-patient interaction and, as her education progressed, she became even more interested in the science of treating disease.
As an undergrad, she did research in HIV education techniques, aging and memory, and visited Tanzania to work with HIV patients to help prevent the spread of HIV in the region. After graduation, she spent a year researching patient education for congestive heart failure with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Caroline was attracted to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA because of the students, who impressed her with their eagerness to learn from one another — something that she had enjoyed during her undergraduate years. She also felt the professors wanted to engage with the students and made themselves available to answer questions outside of lecture.
When she chose UCLA, Caroline was selected as a David Geffen Medical Scholarship recipient, which covers 100 percent of the in-state or out-of-state cost of attending medical school--a complete living stipend, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies for the duration of medical school (provided scholars remain in good standing). She credits the scholarship for letting her pursue her passion for global health, specializing in pediatrics. "One of the goals of the scholarship is to let students pick a specialty and set goals without worrying about making enough money to pay back those debts," she says. "It's worked out for me because I feel unrestrained by what I can do."
Looking to the future
Caroline's goals include working with pediatric patients on a global scale, and she credits UCLA with helping her achieve these goals at this point in her medical training. "UCLA provided the funding, the contacts on site, and they even connected me with my mentor. They helped me make all this possible." Although she hasn't yet decided what she wants her subspecialty within pediatrics to be, she is interested in infectious disease, intensive care, hematology and oncology. Whatever she decides, she plans on continuing her global health work, thanks to the physicians, mentors and advisors she has met at UCLA who have inspired her to follow her passion.
The David Geffen Medical Scholarship at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA helps students like Caroline pursue their passions to help others. Graduates are able to immediately enter fields of research, academic medicine and public health, and become leaders in healthcare policy and academic medicine.