Skip to main content

NAFP/F Scholarship Winners

Charles F. Ashby, MD, Memorial Scholarship (Two Scholarships Awarded)

This scholarship is given in memory of Dr. Ashby to new NAFP family physicians practicing in Nebraska. Dr. Ashby was a 60-year charter member of the NAFP, serving as president in 1964. He was active in state and local affairs, medical societies, community and public service. He was dedicated to being a family physician, deeply committed to caring for his patients until the day he died. This scholarship is intended to assist new family physicians as they begin their practice in Nebraska. The recipients of this year’s awards are Drs. Jillian Fickenscher, of York, and Leann Heinrichs, of Hebron.

Since Dr. Fickenscher has started practicing in York, NE, her practice has grown quickly. She sees patients of all ages in the clinic, in the hospital and the ER. Obstetrics has quickly become a favorite part of her practice, she says, “I get to take care of and know new mothers during their pregnancy, then deliver their babies and begin to care for their new young families.” Dr. Fickenscher is very involved within her community, serving as the sole representative for both Family Medicine and rural Nebraska on the Nebraska DHHS Maternal Mortality Review Committee and as the Medical Director for her district health department. She volunteers within her communities’ schools by giving yearly maturation talks to older-elementary aged girls and serving on a career panel, as well as speaking in church regarding end-of-life considerations and the importance of advanced directives. She states, “I think these examples of living, working in, and serving your own small town is the epitome of rural Family Medicine, and for these opportunities I am grateful.” 

Dr. Heinrichs is currently practicing Family Medicine with Surgical Obstetrics at Thayer County Health Services in Hebron, along with one other physician partner. Her passion has always been obstetrics and pediatrics. In her application she says, “I value the relationships that I am able to form with young mothers and their families and the influence I am able to make on their lives.” Since starting her practice in Hebron, she has used her own finances to provide age-appropriate books for patients during well child visits. Reading to children at a young age is paramount to brain development and future success of the child, as well as building a strong family bond. Reach Out and Read is a non-for-profit pediatric literacy model endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which provides a book free of charge to every child at their well visit from age 6 months through 5 years of age. To receive approval as a site, a clinic must certify that the necessary funding for developmentally appropriate books is available for at least the first year of implementation. “I would be honored to receive funding to begin a Reach Out and Read program at Thayer County Health Services through the Charles. F. Ashby Memorial Scholarship, leaving part of Dr. Ashby’s legacy in the hands of children and families in Thayer County.” 

Donald A. Larson, MD, Memorial Scholarship

The NAFP Foundation established the Donald J. Larson, MD, Scholarship in memory of Dr. Larson in 2008. Don was a valued member and was president of the Nebraska Academy in 1978. He was an acclaimed teacher of Family Medicine graduate education and served as program director of the Lincoln Family Practice Residency Program. This scholarship is presented annually to a Family Medicine resident who is interested in Family Medicine in rural practice.

The recipient of the 2021 Donald J. Larson Resident Scholarship is Dr. Lindsey Nelson. Dr. Nelson will be pursuing a career as a family physician in Henderson, NE upon completion of her residency program. As a Nebraskan born and raised in a small town, she is looking forward to returning to a rural area to practice full-scope Family Medicine, including obstetrics and endoscopy. She wrote in her application, “Family Medicine holds a strong interest for me largely due to the continuity of care. I enjoy seeing patients through all stages of life, from birth to end of life care. I appreciate the opportunity to take care of patients in multiple settings, including outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals. Rural practice is especially important to my career in Family Medicine. Patients in these areas often have difficulty with access to health care providers, so I’m looking forward to helping ease that burden.”  

Haiti Mission Trip Scholarship

The Haiti Mission scholarship is given to a resident or student who is interested in participating in a medical mission trip to Haiti. Dr. Joe Miller has been very instrumental in the development and support of this scholarship program and he has participated in many trips to Haiti over the past few years. Unfortunately, due to the current conditions in Haiti, they are not able to provide a mission trip at this time.

Medical Mission Trip Grant

Dr. Kathleen Bliese Walk, a trustee on the NAFP Foundation Board, was instrumental in establishing the Medical Mission Scholarship in 2002 to help defray expenses for medical students participating in medical mission trips as part of their medical educational experience.

This year we award this grant to Michael Backer, M1, who is a student at CUMC. Mr. Backer will be attending a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic through Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC). One of Creighton’s values are “women and men for and with others”. He wrote in his application, “For me, this particular value rings true with how I try and live out a life of service and mission for others. Service is just as much about relationships as it is about the actual task at hand. Focusing on the people being served and not just fixating on daily or weekly accomplishments is how service can be transformational.” He is looking forward to utilizing the skills and knowledge he has acquired in school to directly impact those who are in profound need of adequate and compassionate healthcare. Mr. Backer said, “This experience is about more than just treating patients, providing patient education, or learning new skills. It’s about being for and with the people of the Dominican Republic.” 

William A. DeRoin, MD, Memorial Scholarship

The DeRoin Memorial scholarship is presented each year in memory of Dr. William A. DeRoin. Dr. DeRoin was the president of the Nebraska Academy in 1979-1980. He had been very active in the Academy and particularly in helping to form and work with the student family practice clubs. He passed away in 1980 and the DeRoin scholarship was created in his memory. It is presented annually to a Nebraska medical student attending either Creighton University or the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The 2021 William A. DeRoin scholarship was given to Nicole Beckman, who is a M1 at UNMC. Ms. Beckman began to explore Family Medicine early on and was quickly hooked with the thought of a fulfilling career that would allow her to serve in a rural community, much like the one that has molded her into the woman she is today. Through a family practice job shadowing experience, she watched as the family physicians interacted with their patients on a personal level that was based on relationships formed outside of the clinic and years as their primary care provider. She desires to raise her future family in a rural community and is excited to be able to serve a community that can trust her as their provider throughout the individuals’ lifespan. Ms. Beckman states, “That trust is not something I will take lightly, and it would be my honor to serve as a Family Medicine physician, providing competent and empathetic care to my future patients.” 

Dennis DeRoin, MD, Memorial Scholarship

Dennis DeRoin followed his father's footsteps and made the decision to go to medical school and be a Family Physician. Dennis was privileged to work with his father one year before his father's early death at age 52. Dennis worked in private practice from 1979 until 1988 and then worked with Methodist Physician's Clinic until 2015 when he retired from the Louisville NE clinic. Throughout his career he enjoyed the variety of Family Medicine including delivering babies and caring for them and the entire family. He enjoyed having students and residents come spend time at his clinic. He served on many Methodist Hospital committees including the Physician's Clinic Executive Committee. Dennis got involved with the Nebraska Academy of Family Physicians when he was a medical student and his father brought him along to the annual meetings. He served as president of the NAFP from 1997 to 1998 and also served on and chaired many NAFP committees. He was on the AAFP Subcommittee on Indian Health and the Commission on Minority Health Affairs, both of which interested him because of his American Indian heritage.  He enjoyed being a Family Physician and especially loved spending time with his own family -- wife, Marcia, and children, Nicole and Bill.   

The 2021 scholarship recipient is Geena Piper, who is a M2 at UNMC. Ms. Piper is one of the Co-Presidents for the Family Medicine Interest Group at UNMC. She has known in her heart since she was little that she wanted to be a family physician. It was a family physician that caught and diagnosed her grandmother’s cancer and helped to get her enrolled in a clinical trial that slowed her disease course and gave her family more precious time. In her application she said, “As a family doctor you are the first line of defense for your patients and an advocate for their overall wellbeing and health. Family Medicine is where I know that I am being called to serve and I am so excited to continue to explore this field.” Every time she has clinic experiences with family physicians, she leaves filled with so much energy and joy as each day was never the same as the last and there was always something new to keep her on her toes. 

Rural Student Externship Grant

The purpose of this six-week Externship is to introduce medical students to the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model of care. The student will work in multiple locations over a six-week period. The student would have the opportunity to see how the Patient-Centered Medical Home concept is integrated into the policies of the ACO and how the medical director helps guide the members of the ACO in developing and implementing the Patient-Centered Medical Home model within their clinic.

The 2021 recipient of the externship opportunity is Amy Soeun, an M1 at CUMC. Ms. Soeun is a first-generation college student, first of her family to receive an undergraduate degree and first to attend medical school. Her parents are immigrants from Cambodia, and she hopes that she can diversify the medical field and empower other people who are underrepresented in medicine. In her application she wrote, “My draw to primary care and Family Medicine is the long-term relationship I can build with my patients, and the opportunity to work with them throughout their lifetime. I am passionate about preventative care, and I foresee the various opportunities that I can incorporate with Family Medicine.” She has a particular interest in rural medicine, with its’ unique challenges such as access to healthcare services and the prevalence of chronic diseases that impact rural communities. Ms. Soeun says that these are issues she aspires to combat, and the Rural Externship will allow her to learn more about Nebraska and the challenges impacting rural communities.