January 24, 2020—Much like many organs that come together to form a human body, all the educational, research and volunteering experiences that Oliver Shore has collected are coalescing to form a promising career path in primary care.
Receiving the Hugh and Mabel Wilford Scholarship Fund enables Shore, a second-year medical student at the UF College of Medicine, to pursue a specialty that he’s passionate about with less stress about its financial ramifications.
“My scholarship is allowing me to pursue a career the way I want to. In primary care, you’re able to deliver personalized medicine, care that takes into account the patient’s identity, beliefs and values,” Shore says.
Shore’s interest in medicine was spurred by his work in the lab of a UF Health physician-scientist, but it was volunteering with the Gainesville Area AIDS Project from 2016 to 2018 that showed him the true impact a physician can have on the lives of their patients.
“A lot of the patients involved in the Gainesville Area AIDS Project were disadvantaged and in need of care. I saw all the ways that giving your time can benefit others, not just physically but psychologically,” Shore says. “Those experiences made me sure that medicine is what I want to pursue for the rest of my life.”
Shore’s current research is also aimed at improving the health outcomes of those in greatest need locally: low income and uninsured populations in Gainesville. His work, for which he received a T35 Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2019, evaluates the utility of providing education about advance directives to adults without insurance or with low incomes. An advance directive is a legal document stating one’s wishes regarding their medical treatment, often serving as a living will, made to ensure these wishes are fulfilled in the event that the patient cannot communicate them to a physician. Shore’s research has shown that while 37% of adults across the nation use advance directives, only 5% of Gainesville’s low income and uninsured population does. His findings so far show that a single educational session about advance directives doesn’t increase their frequency of use.
“This shows me the need for having long-term relationships with patients and the power of being able to discuss deep, personal matters that patients may not have previously felt comfortable speaking about,” he says.
Patients aren’t the only population Shore advocates for. He serves as the academic debriefing chair for the UF College of Medicine Class of 2022 Executive Board and a student representative for the UF College of Medicine Committee on Program Evaluation and Student Assessment, a pair of positions that allows him to take a critical eye to the curriculum and provide feedback to the college’s faculty and administration.
“Education is dynamic,” Shore says. “We need continuous feedback to improve it. We’ve made some changes that will impact the classes that come after us. It’s been very gratifying to reflect on what makes teaching more effective or less effective.”
Shore also serves as the treasurer for the HealthQueer Alliance, a student-run organization that aims to educate tomorrow’s health care providers on LGBTQ+ health issues, promote equal health opportunities for all patients and foster community among LGBTQ+ and allied students. Shore says the organization rounds out the education received at the UF College of Medicine by shedding light on necessary topics like treating patients who are trans, intersex or gender nonconforming, or navigating the world of health care while being a LGBTQ+ provider.
“These topics aren’t necessarily covered in our curriculum,” Shore says. “In my first year and a half of medical education, we’ve had one panel discussion and we have one coming up. It’s necessary to have more than a couple of hours built into our non-clinical education to discuss LGBTQ+ issues.”
When Shore looks ahead to his career after graduation, all of his experiences continue to fuel his passion for providing a continuity of care, ensuring patients’ well-being not just for today but for all of their tomorrows.
“I want to have relationships with my patients that allow me to not just treat their current symptoms, but help them plan for a healthier life, one in which they are comfortable accessing care,” Shore says.