David Carrier, MD, received the scholarship in 2006. He is a practicing family physician in Nashville, Tenn. Below are some questions he answered regarding the scholarship he was rewarded.

Q. What made you turn to the Foundation for this scholarship opportunity?
As someone interested in serving underserved patient populations, it was important to me to try to minimize my debt coming out of medical school. The assistance of the Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, scholarship was a vital part of enabling me to pursue a practice that is more about providing care for patients who really need it than about maximizing physician salary.

Q. How did the scholarship award help you in medical school? How did receiving this scholarship encourage you in your studies?
The Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, scholarship enabled me to take out fewer loans in medical school, which, due to compounding interest, made a huge financial difference when I started paying back my loans. Further, being a medical student is not easy; there is tremendous pressure associated with trying to step into the role of a fully trained physician when one does not yet have the skills and knowledge to be able to do so. The encouragement and vote of confidence that being selected as the recipient of the Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, scholarship brought was very beneficial in enabling me to confidently navigate the difficult training process.

Q. How has student debt affected you?
The overwhelming size of student debt- and the amount of time it takes to pay it off- is a weight and pressure I have felt since graduation. I look forward to the day when I am free of student debt and better able to give to charitable causes I would like, but am currently unable, to support. As a medical student, I was very conscious of debt. To save money, I ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch every day for four years, and my feelings for that simple sandwich have never recovered.

Q. How do you see student debt affecting today's medical students?
I think that many students feel driven to pursue higher paying specialties due to the pressure of debt. Most medical students enter medical school with a very idealistic view of the practice of medicine, and strong desire to help and serve those most in need. I think that the reality of student debt is one of many factors that affects many students' decisions to select fields other than primary care, and to choose to care for patient populations consisting mostly of patients with private insurance.