A Spokane student at the University of Washington School of Medicine recently received recognition from the Washington State Medical Association.
Fourth-year medical student Vera Schulte was awarded the WSMA Early Career Member of the Year award recognizing her work within the organization.
Schulte was a student liaison for the American Medical Association, as well as serving as the chair of the Medical Student Section of the Washington State Medical Association.
Schulte’s mentor, Dr. Clint Hauxwell, co-director, Foundations of Clinical Medicine UWSOM Spokane, is a member of the WSMA board. Hauxwell said the organization is committed to promoting student involvement.
Schulte attended the WSMA annual meeting of the House of Delegates, where resolutions are submitted and voted on by members. The resolutions passed by the organization become policy and can be added to the WSMA’s legislative agenda, Hauxwell said. Schulte encouraged more student involvement in that process.
“I created a coalition of medical students from schools across the state,” she said. “We hosted a resolution-writing workshop and had a good turnout.”
The medical student section submitted a record 10 resolutions in 2019. Nine were accepted, and six of those were authored by Schulte.
The WSMA used two of those resolutions to advocate before the legislature. Bills regarding evidence-based sex education and health care reform in the criminal justice system were passed into law this year.
“It was amazing to see a bill sponsored and passed into law because of a resolution I wrote,” she said.
Born in Germany, Schulte immigrated to the U.S. at age 4 when her father took a job with Microsoft.
While an undergrad at Washington University in St. Louis, Schulte lived in a neighborhood known for socioeconomic and racial disparities. She learned the area had high teen pregnancy and maternal morbidity rates.
Seeking to learn why the area had poor access to care, Schulte started the university’s first Women’s Health Group to get more students involved in the community and lobby on behalf of women at the state capitol.
That’s when her interest in advocacy and medicine began, Schulte said.
“I realized how important it was to advocate for patients who couldn’t advocate for themselves because of income disparity, immigration status or racial or ethnic issues,” she said.
Schulte also was honored by UWSOM Spokane with the academic citizenship award for her class.
In October, Schulte stepped down from her student leadership in the WSMA. She’s focusing on her residency, with a goal to pursue obstetrics and gynecology.