Much-honored medical student earns another prestigious scholarship

Brett Thomas, a student at the Florida State University College of Medicine, has received another in a string of honors: a $5,000 Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship.

Only five other students in the country received the scholarship, awarded by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“It’s quite an honor to be recognized on the national level with a handful of stellar medical students,” said Thomas, a Wakulla County native who is president of his class. “It’s also a huge blessing in terms of paying for my medical education, so I’m very thankful for that.”

The $5,000 Nickens scholarships go to outstanding third-year medical students who have led efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care.

Thomas was raised by a single mother who worked hard to give him the best educational opportunities. A year before he became a medical student, he was accepted into the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, Bridge to Clinical Medicine Program at the College of Medicine. That same year, he mentored middle and high school students who were on a pathway to science, math and possibly a career in health care.

Also that year, he completed a research project about contributing factors in the success of African-American men in medical school. He has presented his findings at a National Rural Health Association conference and at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and his research was published last year in Academic Medicine. He regularly offers guidance to current and future medical students.

“I have often seen him huddled with fellow students or standing at the white board in the study space near my office as he helped other students grasp complex material,” said Helen Livingston, the College of Medicine’s associate dean for research, graduate, undergraduate and pre-college programs. “Brett also served as an anatomy teaching assistant. All who were in his group successfully completed the course.”

In 2011, Thomas was elected to the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi; was one of the nation’s 10 Tylenol Future Care Scholars; and received the FSU College of Medicine Dean’s Award Scholarship, the Leon C. Tully and Billy Tully Foundation Scholarship and the American Medical Association Minorities Scholarship.

“He is truly an amazing medical student,” Livingston said, “and will be one of our future leaders in medicine and one of our best practicing physicians.”

Another College of Medicine student, Noemí LeFranc (M.D.,’12), received a Nickens scholarship in 2010.