Stanford University Home

Stanford Report Online

Shenson Society helps students
pursue internal medicine careers


In honor of the brother with whom he practiced for more than 50 years, alumnus Dr. A. Jess Shenson last fall endowed a student society to encourage physicians-in-training at Stanford to go into internal medicine or primary care.

The Ben Shenson Society already has 77 members, including 24 who will be residents in internal medicine next year at Stanford or elsewhere. The members participate in a variety of programs with Stanford faculty in internal medicine, said Dr. Edward D. Harris Jr., the George DeForest Barnett Professor of Medicine, who serves as faculty adviser to the society.

"We hope our students, through a variety of interactions, will become imbued with the excitement and positive benefits of internal medicine as a career," Harris said. "These students won't be alone. The number of students embarking on primary care residencies at Stanford has been increasing every year. In 1997, about half of the 82 graduating Stanford medical students were headed toward a primary care career."

Ben Shenson, who died in 1995, and his brother Jess attended Stanford as undergraduates and as medical students, and both remained active in Stanford affairs throughout their medical careers. In 1985, the brothers created a visiting professorship in which guest faculty in medicine work with students and residents for a week. While at Stanford, the visitor presents the Rose and Louis Shenson Lecture (in honor of the brothers' parents) at Medical Grand Rounds. A key activity for members of the Ben Shenson Society is the opportunity to have dinner and share time with the Shenson visiting professors.

The most recent event was a dinner that gave second- and third-year medical students a chance to talk with several graduating students about why they chose internal medicine or primary care. The April 8 dinner, said Harris, also gave members an opportunity to ask questions about such issues as choosing clerkships and future programs.

"The goals of the society are in keeping with Ben Shenson's tremendous interest and pride in the specialty of internal medicine. The intention is to provide mentoring and support that includes social and intellectual enrichment for our students who intend to pursue a career in internal medicine," Harris said.

The society also maintains a Web site, which provides information and assistance in applying for internal medicine residencies. (

The society's steering committee includes Harris, Dr. Elliott Wolfe, associate dean for medical student and graduate affairs; Dr. Michael Jacobs, professor of medicine and a co-founder of the Stanford Medical Group; Dr. Charles Tucker, deputy chief of service in medicine and a Menlo Medical Clinic cardiologist; and the director of the Department of Medicine residency program, Dr. Kelley Skeff, professor of medicine.

A student advisory committee is being formed to advise the society on events and services and on the Shenson Professorship, Harris said. sr