Natalya Beneschott Scholarship for Medical School Students

Funded by
Breanden Beneschott
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
May 5, 2020
Winners Announced
Jun 6, 2020
Education Level
Eligibility Requirements
Medical Specialties:
Pediatrics, Family medicine, Internal medicine, Rheumatology, Neurology, Nephrology, Ob-gyn
Medical Specialties:
Pediatrics, Family medicine, Internal medicine, Rheumatology, Neurology, Nephrology, Ob-gyn

Today, the average student graduating from medical school in the US carries more than $200k in debt. When you take into account the length of medical school and residency, the average doctor won’t pay off her debt until well into her forties.

We take many of our brightest, most empathetic young minds—those who dream of dedicating their lives to helping people—and give them a terrible option:

Do you spend more than a decade to become a doctor only to take on so much debt that your future children may be in middle school by the time you can pay it off?

And once you do pursue a career in medicine, do you specialize in fields experiencing the greatest shortages, like family medicine or internal medicine, even though they are the lowest-paying, or do you go into far more lucrative fields like plastic surgery or radiology?

At what point does your passion for a particular field of medicine waver in the face of a mountain of debt? And why are you forced to make this choice in the first place?

I watched first-hand as my sister, Natalya, confronted these questions recently as she finished medical school. She decided to follow her dreams and specialize in pediatrics, one of the lowest-paying physician specializations. I could not be more proud of her.

She inspired me to create this scholarship. I hope that it will help a medical student or young doctor chasing ambitious goals in the face of challenging financial questions to, in some small way, be able to better pursue their dreams.

Selection Criteria:

Scholarship application

Essay Topic

Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you plan to make a positive impact on the world through your medical career.

500–1000 words

Winning Application

Nicole Fosko
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNorth Brunswick Township, NJ
The system of medical education in the United States - and medical system at large - is undoubtably broken in this day and age. Although the cause of this broken system is multifactorial, one downfall is cited again and again as a perpetuating factor within a vicious cycle that antagonizes unfair expectations with even more unfair solutions. It is the “norm” - the expectation, the so-called “investment” - that medical students will pay between $40,000 and $60,000 a year to pursue their passion, after spending similar sums in order to achieve the prerequisite undergraduate degree. To pursue a lifestyle with high burnout, many sacrifices, and even a disproportionate rate of suicide when compared to the general population. This leads us to the current predicament: the average medical student will graduate with $200,000 in debt, snowballing with interest so that the true sum owed is even greater. And the true sum owed extends beyond monetary value, enveloping years of one’s life and youth. So what is the solution? These students are told that they can pursue a career within primary care, a workforce that is so desperately needed in this current medical system but is only compensated modestly, when compared to the profession as a whole. Or they are told they can subspecialize within a more “competitive” specialty, so that they can be paid handsomely. With these options, what becomes the driving force? The idealist might say “passion” and “interest.” But every medical student in America knows that the ability to pay off your loans while attempting to build the life you postponed becomes the true motivation. And this becomes the bottom line of our broken system. Before starting medical school, I knew I wanted to incorporate Women’s Health into my future career. In this sense, the field of OB/GYN has always been of intrigue. Through more experience and exposure, I have fallen in love with the patient population, the mixture of procedures and clinical care, and the mindset and camaraderie of those who work within the field. What perhaps is most important to me is that fact that OB/GYN’s are often the only physician a young woman will see each year, allowing us to serve as true primary care physicians and to serve our patients well beyond the female reproductive system. Prenatal care might be the first time a woman ever goes to the doctor as an adult, entrusting not only her own health but the health of her unborn child. In this sense, the field of OB/GYN takes on a deeper meaning to those we serve. From the moment my passion for OB/GYN began, so too did the uphill battle. Nine times out of ten, when I explain my inklings on my future specialty, the first words out of the other person’s mouth are negative. “I hear that’s a terrible lifestyle.” “So you’ll be working on holidays for the rest of your life?” “Why don’t you just do dermatology; it pays better.” I consider myself a tough and resilient individual, but these words gradually chip away at my confidence, so much that I tried (with little success) to convince myself that I would be content doing a more “lifestyle-friendly” and better-paid specialty. I spent my first year of medical school shadowing every specialty under the sun, exploring my options. Throughout all of my experiences, no matter how hard I tried to envision myself doing another speciality, it felt as though OB/GYN was choosing me. Nothing sparked more joy than the first time I watched a woman bring new life into the world; nothing sparked such a fire within me as witnessing a teenager confide in her OB/GYN that she was experiencing domestic partner violence. Being a physician entails, at the most basic level, a personal relationship with one’s patients; being an OB/GYN arguably entails the most personal of these relationships, with the most personal and vulnerable aspects of one’s self being shared. Beyond the fact that OB/GYN is considered primary care, there is an even harsher reality that explains why OB/GYN’s are not paid as well as other specialties, particularly surgical subspecialties. What do the fields of OB/GYN, Urology, and Orthopedic Surgery have in common? They all incorporate surgery. But what makes the fields of OB/GYN, Urology, and Orthopedic Surgery different? Urology and Orthopedic Surgery are estimated to earn well over $100,000 and $200,000 more per year, respectively, than OB/GYN. And what is the root of these salary discrepancies? OB/GYN is female-dominated, while Urology and Orthopedic Surgery are male-dominated. The gender pay gap affects even the most well-educated and well-respected individuals in this country. Despite these realities, the words of discouragement I hear from those around me, and my own financial fears, I simply cannot see myself doing anything other than Obstetrics and Gynecology for the rest of my life. In my work as a future physician, I will strive to make a difference in the lives of others and use my talents to serve those in most need. Beyond Women’s Health, I would like to build a career at an academic institution, so that I can help train and mentor the next generation of medical professionals and “pay it forward.” Sharing my knowledge and experience with others has always been paramount to who I am as a person, because I have been fortunate to have had numerous mentors help me get to where I am today. Even now, in the busiest time of my life thus far, it keeps me grounded to share my passion for medicine with others and help them in their own medical education journeys. I would like to thank Mr. Beneschott for his consideration in helping me pursue my dream of becoming a physician, and more so, my dream of becoming an OB/GYN. Although the medical education system is indeed broken, efforts like these help us all move in the right direction.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 5, 2020. Winners will be announced on Jun 6, 2020.