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First year medical students receive stethoscopes, inspiration

Family uses tragedy to encourage future physicians to make a difference


(ATHENS, Ohio – Aug. 15, 2013) First year medical students at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) now carry a stethoscope engraved with the phrase "Excel in Leaving a Mark." The 142 stethoscopes for students in the Class of 2017 were gifts made possible by the Jason Madachy Foundation and the OU-HCOM Society of Alumni and Friends.


The Jason Madachy Foundation is a nonprofit organization that Dolly and Joe Madachy established in memory of their son Jason, an aspiring physician, who died tragically weeks after his graduation from Miami University in 2007 and just before beginning medical school.


In a ceremony that moved many to tears with the story of Jason and the altruism of the family, students hugged Mrs. Madachy as she gave each of them their Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope. Mrs. Madachy explained that the stethoscope was a poignant and lasting gift meant to encourage the future physicians to do their best and to be the best at what they do.


“We are here not only to give you your stethoscopes, but to remind you not to wait to tomorrow. Get out of your comfort zone and make a difference,” said Mrs. Madachy. “When you become a physician you’ll have this stethoscope in your hands when you save a patient.”


“Your work comes from your heart to the hearts of your patients. This tool will touch the hearts of your patients,” Mr. Madachy said.


The Madachys wanted to find a meaningful way to commemorate Jason’s life and to inspire others to give back. Jason was heavily involved with philanthropic activities.  “He also wanted to become a doctor since a young age, and he was always giving back. He wanted to make a difference,” Mrs. Madachy said.


While still in shock over the sudden death of their son, the idea to present first year medical students with stethoscopes came to them while at the White Coat Ceremony for the Marshall University College of Medicine Class of 2011, of which Jason would have been a member. Two faculty members at Marshall presented each student with a stethoscope in Jason’s memory. Soon after, the Madachys established the foundation with the intent to purchase stethoscopes for medical students.


The foundation presented its first stethoscopes to A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Class of 2013, of which Jason’s younger brother, Jeff, was a member. Jeff had earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio University, and seven years ago he founded the annual Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics in honor of his brother. Jeff is now a first year resident at OhioHealth’s Doctors Hospital.


Jacqueline Zuponcic, OMS IV, first connected the college with the Jason Madachy Foundation after receiving a stethoscope from the foundation upon her matriculation to OU-HCOM. “My classmates at Miami University who also matriculated received stethoscopes as gifts from the foundation as well.” Mrs. Madachy contacted her about providing stethoscopes to new students at OU-HCOM in honor of Jason.


So far, the Jason Madachy Foundation has distributed stethoscopes to medical students at more than a dozen medical schools nationally, most of which are in Ohio. 


“You received your white coats which are seen as your entry into the family of medicine, and the stethoscope really is a symbol of being a physician,” said OU-HCOM Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O., who noted that it will be with each of the students throughout their academic career at the college. “It will be an invaluable tool that each of you will use with your patients as you become a doctor of osteopathic medicine.”


The OU-HCOM Society of Alumni and Friends Board is committed to providing stethoscopes to first year students well into the future, said Laurie Lach, director of alumni affairs. This year was the second OU-HCOM students received stethoscopes. College alumni have the opportunity to sponsor the purchase of a stethoscope for an incoming student, and the Madachys and Society members urged this year’s class to give back after they graduate.


“The alumni society believes that this reinforces and moves forward in a small but significant way the essential values of the college, values of a commitment to service, generosity and compassion,” said Tim Law, D.O. (’94), assistant professor of family medicine and a member of the Society’s board of directors.


“This gift serves first as a medical instrument that you will use each day, but it also serves as a symbol for our alumni society to inspire each of you, our first year osteopathic medical students, to give back to your community and your alma mater when your time allows,” Dr. Law told the Class of 2017.  “As you receive your stethoscope, remember that it is more than a medical instrument, it is a symbol of caring for and giving to others.”


First year students Josi Herren, Dan Krajcik and Bill Wilson, who joined the couple for lunch on Wednesday, presented the Madachys with flowers and a card signed by the class.  Having started medical school just weeks ago, Herren described wearing a stethoscope as, “…feeling like playing dress up, but it is a good reminder that we are here for a reason.”


“This is an amazing gift, a perfect gift to give to a medical student,” said Wilson as he offered thanks to the Madachys on behalf of his classmates. “Whenever we look at this engraving, we will remember you. We thank you for going the extra mile to be here with us. You are the most compassionate and loving and thoughtful people.”

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Last updated: 01/28/2016