scholarships
Image of Barbara Bergin, MD, leaning against her horseReviving the Dream

School of Medicine Alumna Helps Incoming Medical Students Pay for School

Kevin Bass was tired of struggling. Tired of feeling like everything was harder for him than those who were “normal.” His parents were just hoping he’d graduate high school. He was, too.

Four years later saw Bass graduating from the University of Texas in Austin and applying for medical school, including TTUHSC. Growing up with medical issues that he’d still rather not talk about, he knew his bedside manner would be an important vehicle to serving those with medical needs. His acceptance packet from TTUHSC included a $2,500 scholarship from the Dr. Barbara Bergin and Dr. Paul Nader SOM Non-Endowed Scholarship.

COST OF A CAREER

Bass, a husband and father of two, feels like he’s finally hit the jackpot. The scholarship support encourages Bass as he commits to finishing medical school and pursuing primary care. Unfortunately, the commitment students have to medical school, particularly pursuing a generalist degree such as family medicine, is declining now that primary care doctors spend four years in medical school with expensive tuition that doesn’t justify the salary they’ll earn once they complete their three-year primary care residency. Many pre-med students end up switching to other health professions with shorter education time, less debt and a salary that is close to if not equal to that of primary care doctors.

Barbara Bergin, MD, (Resident ’86, Medicine ’81) became increasingly alarmed at the increasing shortage.

It wasn’t until her children began the college enrollment process, that she understood why. She had completed medical school and undergraduate school debt-free — tuition for medical school when she went was $500 per semester. Since the catalyst behind the shortage was, in large part, financial, she decided to help incoming TTUHSC medical students pursuing primary care. In 2014, Bergin, and her husband, Paul Nader, MD, (Medicine ’81) established a non-endowed scholarship.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Both Bergin and Nader were raised by hard-working parents. Bergin’s father was a salesman, and her mother was a full-time stay-at-home mom to Bergin and her brother. Once they were in college, she went, too, eventually earning a PhD and capping her career as the Deputy Commissioner of Education for the state of Texas. Nader’s father immigrated from Lebanon and was a Methodist minister working his way through the ranks to become one of the lead ministers at the United Methodist Church in Lubbock, the fifth largest United Methodist Church in the country at the time. His mother was also a stay-at-home mom.

It never occurred to either Bergin or Nader to work any less hard than their parents. In fact, Bergin didn’t allow an unplanned pregnancy during her residency, to derail her dreams. She took her 15 work days off for the delivery and recovery and then went back to work — the Family Medical Leave Act wasn’t established until 1993.

“We never questioned the work required of us — and still don't. So, it’s a shame that hard-working medical students are having to question their commitment because of finances.”

WELL-DESERVED BREAK

To date, Bergin and Nader have provided six scholarships to incoming medical students, like Kevin Bass, who just need a break. A break from overwhelming debt that affects them and their families. A break that keeps them in medical school and on track to become doctors that will serve hundreds upon hundreds of people. A ripple effect stemming from hard-working people who want to help other hard-working people. That’s a legacy to be proud of, and one that Bass hopes to pay forward.

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texas tech university health sciences center
3601 fourth street STOP 6238
Lubbock, TX 79430-6238

(806) 743-2786
givinginfo@ttuhsc.edu
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