Ruth Fox Scholars Track Growth From Attending Conference

Last year, 11 residents and medical students chosen as Ruth Fox Scholars were able to attend the ASAM conference through funding from the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund. But that scholarship can do more than punch a ticket to a meeting; it can open doors in a career.

“I think the Ruth Fox scholarship solidifies an interest many people have in working with addictive disorders,” said Brian Hurley, MD, MBA, a Ruth Fox Scholar. “It formalizes that interest within the context of addiction medicine. It goes from being an area of need you think about but don’t know how to address, to a field of medical practice with a body of knowledge and its own set of skills.”

Since being chosen as a Ruth Fox Scholar in 2004, Dr. Hurley has held numerous positions in ASAM and will be the Treasurer in 2015-17. He is a Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholar affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Catherine Friedman, MD

Catherine Friedman, MD

Catherine Friedman, MD, was a Ruth Fox Scholar in 2007. Although she has attended every ASAM Annual Conference since, she still carries fond memories of that first meeting.

“Many medical societies have programs like this to bring trainees to their annual meetings. Ruth Fox could be an example to all such programs of how to do these in a way that engages the participants and pulls them into both the specialty area and the society,” said Dr. Friedman, an Assistant Professor (Clinical) at the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

“My involvement in ASAM has made me much more aware of general addiction issues,” she said. “I have specialized in perinatal and adolescent addictions, but being involved with ASAM has increased my awareness of the general field of addiction medicine and how issues in these subpopulations relate to addiction medicine as a whole.”

Dr. Friedman recalls being directed around the meeting by the late Max Schneider, MD, a former ASAM President and Chair of the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund.

“He was an amazing person. He said we were going to go to every single function that had to do with ASAM because ASAM brought us there,” Dr. Friedman said. “We had to get up and introduce ourselves many times, and the ASAM members were incredibly welcoming every single time. Every evening the scholars got together with Max, and he had us share what we learned during the day and what we enjoyed most about the day. It helped us get to know each other as a group and to create a community among the scholars.

“That led me into ASAM. I got involved with founding and then leading the Women in Substance Use Disorders Action Group. I also started to do presentations.”

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Brian Hurley, MD, MBA

Dr. Hurley agreed about the impact of the meeting on his career.

“This program gives you exposure so you learn how addiction medicine is practiced in a variety of contexts,” he said. “You see the breadth of addiction medical practice. I walked away with a lot of new ideas about how to practice addiction medicine. I learned there are all kinds of ways I could address the needs of patients with substance abuse that I hadn’t even previously considered. The only place you get that is the ASAM conference.”

More information about the scholarship program is available on ASAM’s website. This year, 10 Ruth Fox Scholars from around the nation will be attending the ASAM conference. Help continue to support this important foundational program, and help ASAM to carry forward activities aimed at improving the quality of addiction care with a generous donation to the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund.