International Clinical Electives for GW Students Made Possible through Leonard C. Akman, MD ‘43 Legacy

October 17, 2023
IMP Staff with Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, and Akman Scholarship recipients from the MD Class of 2023
IMP Staff with Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, and Akman Scholarship
recipients from the MD Class of 2023.

It has been a decade since the family of Leonard C. Akman, MD ’43, bequeathed $3.2 million in his honor to the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) in support a variety of initiatives supporting experiential study-abroad opportunities for students. In that time, the amount of SMHS faculty and students engaging in global health activities has grown significantly.

Among the initiatives funded by the gift is the Leonard C. Akman, MD ’43, Global Medicine Scholarship, administered through the Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP), for third- and fourth-year medical students looking to enrich and diversify their medical education by studying medicine in a different country.

International opportunities are often a highlight of a student’s education, as it is a time of both personal and professional growth. Since the scholarships were first awarded in January 2017, more than $200,000 in grants have supported 84 GW SMHS medical students participating in clinical or research electives in 32 countries around the world. GW students have had an opportunity to learn about different health care systems and experience new and unfamiliar cultures along the way.

Daniel Muller, MD ’23, during a clinical research elective in Malari, funded in part by the Akman Scholarship (February 2023)
Daniel Muller, MD ’43, during a clinical research elective in Malari, funded in part by the Akman Scholarship (February 2023)

Among the recent scholarship recipients are Daniel Muller, MD ’23, and Alysia Swint, MD ‘23, who also received Global Health and Humanitarian Awards through IMP. This award is intended for graduating students who demonstrated dedication and commitment to the principles of global health and the improvement of quality of life for those in need.

Muller spent the month of February 2023 at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi assisting ongoing research with experts leading the international charge against pediatric cerebral malaria. In addition to the clinical and research activities, he expressed gratitude for the Akman Scholarship for allowing him to experience the culture of Malawi and further motivate his aspirations of a career in infectious disease. Muller is now a first-year internal medicine resident at the University of Michigan.

For her study abroad program, Swint traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, to complete a traditional medicine elective. While taking medical Spanish classes and observing western and traditional healers, Swint gained a deeper understanding of the interactions between and integration of traditional and hospital medicine. The experience, she said, will help to inform her practice as an integrative medicine – family medicine physician. She recently began a family medicine residency with the Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, California.

Recently, Akman Scholarship recipients from the Class of 2023 had an opportunity to meet with Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, former vice president for health affairs at GW and dean of GW SMHS, who now serves interim chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Students shared the impact from their time overseas. During the meeting, Huda Ayas, EdD ’06, MBA ’98, MHSA ’93, associate dean for international medicine and executive director of IMP, presented Akman with a plaque in honor of his long-standing commitment to the program. The plaque features the names of each GW student who has received support in the name of Leonard Akman, MD, to learn in another country.

“There is plenty of space on the plaque for future awardees, ensuring the legacy of Dr. Akman will continue on in the years to come,” joked Ayas.