SpecialtyCare’s perfusion education scholarship program is designed to support and assist cardiovascular perfusion students who demonstrate the potential to advance patient-focused care in a way that honors the legacies of Jim Brown and Gary Brukardt. The selection committee was delighted by the strong response and overwhelming quality of this year’s candidate pool, which further illustrates the extraordinary talent and commitment of our finalists. With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2018 Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarships are Jacki Brolhorst and Robert DeGiosio. We are confident that they will make significant contributions to patients’ lives and the practice of cardiovascular perfusion for years to come.
Jacki Brolhorst will complete her master’s degree in perfusion education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in May of this year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where she was a member of MEDLIFE, a volunteer student organization dedicated to supporting those in need of healthcare, and Sigma Alpha Lambda, the national leadership and honors organization. Jacki enlisted in the Army while still in high school and served nine years with the Nebraska Army National Guard, which included deployment to Afghanistan. It was there, she says, that she developed a passion for medicine and a desire to help others live their best lives. After returning home with numerous special service commendations, Jacki shadowed a surgery and knew immediately that she wanted to pursue a career in perfusion. She is backed by her husband and her 21-month-old son, who was just two months old when Jacki began perfusion school.
We received effusive letters of recommendation that referred to Jacki as a fearless and innovative student who has “the strength to always act with integrity.” Her perfusion program director said, “Ms. Brolhorst has impressed me from day one with her inquisitive mind. Often, her questions are steps ahead of what I am teaching. Treating each patient as an individual is something I know Ms. Brolhorst strives to do. She truly wants what is best for each patient.” He went on to say, “Jacki has a strong desire to conduct research, and her impeccable written and oral communication skills will serve that research well.” We also heard from a cardiothoracic surgeon with whom Jacki has worked. “From the outset, it was clear that Jacki was different,” he said. “I rarely feel a sense of trust with a perfusion student pumping my cases, but with her, I never doubted that the outcome would be anything except superior.”
Robert “Bobby” DeGiosio served eight years as a member of the U.S. Air Force, receiving multiple special commendations for his achievements. He holds a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and spent four years at Vidant Medical Center as an advanced respiratory care practitioner and ECMO specialist. He is scheduled to graduate with a master’s certificate from the perfusion education program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in May 2019. Bobby has received numerous awards and honors for his coursework, including an invitation to present his UNC senior capstone research project at the North Carolina Society for Respiratory Care Annual Symposium (NCSRC). He has held a variety of student leadership positions and currently serves as co-liaison for AmSECT’s Student Council Committee. Bobby credits his wife and child who, he says, “have sacrificed so much” to allow him to pursue a career in perfusion.
Bobby’s letters of recommendation all contained a recurring theme, that “he will be an excellent addition to any perfusion department that is fortunate enough to obtain him.” Remarking on his senior research project and his presentation at the NCSRC symposium, Bobby’s professor said, “Mr. DeGiosio was one of the best students we have had. He developed an educational program to help educate his coworkers on a complicated topic, and was able to influence the knowledge of hundreds of respiratory therapists throughout the state.” Bobby’s program director at TJUH also offered high praise. “I am constantly asking myself what makes this guy so incredible,” he said. “I can honestly say Robert’s dedication, hard work, and commitment to this profession is more than impressive. I am so proud to be a part of Robert’s perfusion education and I look forward to someday working side-by-side with him as peers.”
We are delighted that Jacki and Bobby will be joining the SpecialtyCare team upon graduation, and that they will be doing so without the financial burden of their perfusion education. While we are not able to extend immediate financial relief to all of our scholarship applicants, we encourage these high-quality candidates to consider employment with us and take advantage of our post-certification education reimbursement benefit.
Clearly, the program directors and faculty at the perfusion schools across the United States are doing a phenomenal job preparing the next generation of cardiovascular perfusionists. We are thankful to these educators for inviting members of our Medical Department—Al Stammers, Linda Mongero, and me—into their classrooms to discuss the scholarship program, emphasize the importance of evidence-based clinical guidance, and promote continuous improvement in patient-first care.
Now in its second year, the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarship program continues to attract candidates who exceed our vision for honoring the lives and work of Jim Brown and Gary Brukardt. These men helped evolve the practice of perfusion and establish the model for outsourced perfusion services that we use today. Their leadership and commitment was life-changing for countless colleagues and patients. It is deeply gratifying to see that same spirit of dedication in today’s students who represent the next generation of leaders in cardiac care.
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Editor’s note: We will begin accepting applications for the 2019 perfusion education scholarships on December 1, 2018.