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Kaplan, a fourth-year student in the School of Medicine and recent graduate of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is one of six medical students in the country to be recognized by the Pisacano Foundation for his leadership within the field of Family Medicine.

The Pisacano Leadership Foundation of the American Board of Family Medicine has selected fourth-year medical student Ben Kaplan, MPH, as a recipient of their prestigious Pisacano Scholarship, which recognizes medical students for their leadership within the field of Family Medicine. Kaplan is one of only six students in the U.S. selected for the scholarship this year, and the fourth UNC medical student selected as a Pisacano Scholar since the scholarship’s inception in 1993.

Kaplan has occupied a number of leadership roles within the UNC School of Medicine. He is an active member of the School of Medicine’s student government and student wellness taskforce, as well as a longtime student advocate in the school’s Advisory College system. Following nomination by his peers, Kaplan was selected as co-president of UNC’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Kaplan’s vision for the future of family practice is both patient- and community-centered, guided by his passions for health equity and social justice. He regularly volunteers at UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), where he provides gender-affirming care and STI testing for local community members. As an associate with UNC’s Center for Health Equity Research, he has developed and led a multi-site Photovoice study with “complex care” patients, who live with multiple chronic illnesses as well as socioeconomic instability.

Following completion of his residency training, Kaplan intends to practice full-spectrum family medicine as part of an interdisciplinary health care team. In addition to caring directly for medically underserved communities, Kaplan is dedicated to changing the way we think, learn, teach, and talk about health disparities. Through medical education, research, and advocacy, he aims to dismantle structural racism, transphobia, and other systems of oppression that directly shape access to care and health outcomes for so many of our patients.

“This award is the culmination of a number of formative experiences I’ve had at the UNC School of Medicine,” said Kaplan. “I am deeply grateful to my family for their love and support, to my mentors for their guidance, my friends for their inspiration, and my patients and study participants for their openness, grace and generosity.”

This award will help provide Kaplan with protected time for pursuing his research and advocacy work outside of clinical training and practice. He was also recently selected to participate in the American Academy of Family Physicians’ 2020 Emerging Leaders Institute, where he will spend the coming year developing his Photovoice study into a larger-scale health education project.

Learn more about the Pisacano Leadership Foundation.