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Stritch pioneer reaches out to struggling students


Fern Asma, MD, is sympathetic to the costs facing new physicians as they start their practices, especially in paying back school loans and purchasing medical liability insurance. "I admire Stritch students and want to give them some help as they begin practicing medicine," she explains. "I don't want them to start their careers with a huge debt hanging over their heads."

A 1964 graduate of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Dr. Asma established a charitable gift annuity of approximately $140,000 to be used toward scholarships. This type of gift allows a person to support Loyola University Chicago and receive a guaranteed income stream for life. Dr. Asma's charitable gift annuity will ultimately be used to establish the Fern A. Asma, MD, Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Stritch School of Medicine.

As one of only four female students in her class at Stritch, Dr. Asma faced vastly different challenges than those of current students. On her first day of class, "We were walking into an anatomy class and the professor was standing at the door shaking hands with all the male students, so I held out my hand," she recalls. "Instead, he said to me 'Oh you're looking for a husband; you took a place away from a man.'"

Fortunately, that event was not a foreshadowing of Dr. Asma's four years at Stritch. "The rest of the faculty was wonderful; most were downright supportive of me and the other women," Dr. Asma recalls. "I enjoyed my years at Stritch and received an excellent education."

After graduating from Stritch, Dr. Asma practiced gastrointestinal medicine with a group of physicians in a downtown Chicago office and with her father, a general family practitioner, in his office in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago's south side. She then spent 28 years at Illinois Bell as an occupational medicine physician.

Dr. Asma retired in 1983 but she still keeps a foothold in medicine by occasionally attending alumni reunions and other events at Stritch. "I enjoy coming to Stritch and visiting the students," she says. "It does my heart good to talk to them and know there is a home for the future of medicine."



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