At VA, we know that medical school comes with all sorts of challenges. But through efforts like the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP), we encourage you to continue your dreams of practicing medicine, and invite you to do so with the best patients—Veterans!
For medical professionals, the Health Professional Scholarship Program pays for medical school tuition and authorized fees, in addition to providing a monthly stipend and an annual education expense payment. In return, recipients agree to practice medicine for 18 months at a VA facility.
Arianne D. Sacramento of the Tulane University School of Medicine is one of our recent HPSP scholarship recipients. While completing her internal medicine acting internship at New Orleans VA Medical Centershe shared some thoughts on what it means to have earned the HPSP scholarship and what it means to come to VA.
What encouraged you to pursue medicine as a profession?
This is actually a bit full circle for me. When I was in middle school or early high school, I thought I wanted to be a physician. I liked the idea of helping people and serving my community. I also liked the sciences. And medicine combines all three.
When I got to college, I discovered other possible career options. In fact, I thought maybe research or teaching was for me. I enjoyed learning and helping others learn and spent some time tutoring and mentoring and engaged in research. My first few jobs after college were in research, too. I spent about a decade in research, studying behavioral neural genetics, molecular pharmacology and cancer biology.
I eventually realized that I wanted a more hands-on and direct role in patient care and decided to go to medical school. After finishing the first three years of medical school, I can say with confidence that I am really happy with my decision.
How did you first learn about the Health Professional Scholarship Program?
I don’t remember how I initially heard of the HPSP scholarship. I may have stumbled upon it during some web browsing or may have heard someone mention it. When I did know that it was a possible scholarship, I kept an eye on the program before it was launched. I remember checking the website every so often to see if applications were open. I decided to apply after getting clinical experience at a VA [facility] during my third-year internal medicine clerkship
What do you remember as your first exposure to VA?
My first true exposure to VA hospital systems was during my third-year internal medicine clerkship. I remember thinking that a lot of these veterans reminded me of my father, other family members and friends who served. In this way, the VA hospital felt familiar and homey. I knew I’d want to work for a VA facility ever since.
How has this scholarship made a difference for you?
The scholarship makes working at a VA facility more of a reality in a way. I think it has provided me a clearer path. I also believe that having a clearer path and direction is kind of like added motivation. I know where I am going and have a better idea of what the future holds for me.
How has working at VA changed your perspective on the needs of Veterans?
After a few rotations, I am more aware of the needs of Veterans outside the hospital. I got to see the importance of interdisciplinary team work. We work closely with social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition and more. For instance, I’ve seen a number of Veterans requiring placement into skilled nursing facilities or other facilities so that they can continue getting better elsewhere. I ultimately think that working at the VA hospital had opened my eyes to better ways to serve them in the future.
What is your favorite thing about working at VA?
As I said before, the VA felt familiar and homey. I really like the environment, patients and staff. I think that the resources available for Veterans are outstanding and am excited about what I’d be able to do at a VA facility.
Work at VA
When it comes to delivering top-quality patient care, we stand behind our team and provide numerous avenues to help bring their educational goals within reach.