Finlay Pilcher, Class of 2024 medical student, poses with her award certificate in the Larner College of Medicine's Given Courtyard.
The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Physician Professional Advisory Committee selected Finlay Pilcher, a Class of 2024 medical student at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, to receive a 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award. USPHS Lieutenant Commander Oyebola Oladeinde, M.D., recognized Pilcher during an award ceremony that took place on Zoom on July 14, 2022.
In a letter to Larner Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., USPHS Lieutenant Commander and Region 1 Coordinator for the USPHS Excellence in Public Health Award program Toya Kelley, M.D., wrote, “This award is a testament to the education provided by the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and to the high caliber of your students. We hope that this will encourage your faculty and students to continue their strong work in public health.”
The USPHS Excellence in Public Health Award was established to recognize medical students' contributions to public health. In particular, the USPHS Physician Professional Advisory Committee looks for evidence of accomplishments that support health promotion and disease prevention, which are the cornerstones of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ and Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2030 and the Surgeon General's Priorities.
The Larner College of Medicine nominated Pilcher to receive this award based on her contributions through her 2021-2022 New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship program project, which aimed to promote and improve HPV vaccination in Lamoille County, Vt., in order to protect adolescents from several types of cancer. As part of the project, she organized and held a school-based health fair, at which Lamoille Union High School students taught each other about preventative healthcare measures. While none of the students ended up getting an HPV vaccine, Pilcher’s work inspired two students to launch their own project to teach destigmatizing and inclusive sexual health education to their peers. Read Pilcher’s blog post about her Schweitzer Fellowship project experience.
In his congratulatory letter to Pilcher, USPHS Captain and Physician Chief Professional Officer Joshua G. Shier, M.D., M.P.H., wrote, “Physicians' commitment to public health is essential to improve the general public's understanding of the important roles of both the medical practitioner as well as their patients in promoting health lifestyles. I encourage you to continue your passion and dedication in public health, to be a leader in the profession, and most importantly, to lead with integrity, service and excellence.”