Case Studies

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine trains students to become compassionate and innovative physicians, educators, and researchers. It emphasizes collaborative learning and research. It is also working toward offering a top-tier, tuition-free medical education. Since 2008, the Satter Foundation contributed to this effort by awarding scholarships to 18 students, enabling them to become leaders in their field without the burden of student loans.


 The Satter Foundation supports three outstanding first-year students through their third year of school. The scholars, who must be in the top five percent of their class, are selected based on their academic performance and their experience. They are a diverse group: some come to medical school straight from their undergraduate studies; others already have PhDs. “Muneer specifically wanted us to use the prospect of free tuition to attract really exceptional students. As a result, Satter scholars are the best of the best and can become the change agents of the future,” says Larry Kuhn, the school’s assistant dean for development. “These are the people who might come up with a cure for cancer.”


The Satter Foundation Scholarship Fund enables recipients to graduate from medical school without debt, reducing pressure to choose high-paying specialties. The scholarship also helps students concentrate fully on their studies; many recipients find they have the time to do research, volunteer at a clinic, or take advantage of other opportunities that may help them become better doctors. After graduation, Satter scholars have gone on to residency programs across the country in internal and family medicine, radiology, plastic surgery, otolaryngology, and other specialties, many of which are experiencing shortages because debt-laden young doctors can’t afford to pursue them.

Patrick Hurley, a scholarship recipient in his fourth year, says the scholarship enabled him to choose psychiatry, the field that truly most interested him, without having to weigh the financial ramifications. “I am immeasurably grateful to the Satter Foundation for this opportunity. Without its support, it would be so much more difficult for me to go to medical school, and in particular to go into psychiatry,” Hurley says. “I hope to spend my career working with underserved populations that are still stigmatized.” What’s more, Hurley points out that the evolution of health care means that doctors increasingly act as team managers and leaders.

“We aren’t just treating patients; we’re now expected to be their advocates and contribute to policy discussions,” he says. Programs such as the Satter Scholars not only invest in training a medical student, he says, they “invest in creating leaders.”

How The Satter Foundation Has Helped

The Satter Foundation Scholarship Fund helps the Feinberg School of Medicine compete with other top institutions. “The Satter Foundation has made a big impact on our efforts to recruit exceptional students,” says Dr. Eric Neilson, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “In the past, we’ve met students who are the cream of the crop who said they would have loved to come to Northwestern, but ultimately enrolled in institutions that offered them full tuition.” The Satter Foundation’s gift helps attract exceptional students and advances the school’s efforts to transition to a tuition-free model. “The Satter Foundation gift is an inspiration to other donors; it sets the pace,” says Kuhn. Muneer is also on the board of Northwestern and is chairman of its finance committee.

What's Next

The school’s goal is to break into the top 10 of the US News & World Report medical school rankings while continuing to emphasize research and collaborative learning. To achieve that goal, the school has put a great deal of effort into recruiting the best teachers, leaders, researchers, and students from across the world. Feinberg is also continuing to work toward its vision of covering tuition for every student.

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