Alumna inspires future physicians through endowed scholarship


Sometimes, you have to just roll up your sleeves and get things done. Jannie Tang, M.D., '76, Res., '77, thinks so, anyway. A successful anesthesiologist, Dr. Tang recounts her history of traveling to the United States and working in a research laboratory to save enough money for her first year of medical school.

"At the time, medical schools would not offer you a place unless you could pay for it. As a foreign student from Hong Kong, I was not eligible for any kind of federal scholarships or loans," Dr. Tang said. "I worked for a full year at a cancer research lab in Boston between undergraduate and medical school, and I saved every penny."

By the end of the year, Dr. Tang had saved enough to get by. "After that first year, I was able to make it through the rest of my medical education with scholarships from the Alumni Association," said Dr. Tang. "I decided then that in the future I would donate to the School of Medicine to help future physicians."

Dr. Tang fulfilled her plan by establishing the Jannie Tang, M.D., Endowed Scholarship in the School of Medicine during the Pivotal Moments campaign. The award has already influenced the lives of 10 medical students.

Christopher Hopper, a third-year medical student, said the scholarship has been pivotal during his time at the School of Medicine.

"Since I want to go into primary care to work with disadvantaged populations, this award has allowed me to focus on that aspect and not on the monetary aspects of medicine. I am grateful to have been selected for the Jannie Tang, M.D., Endowed Scholarship," Hopper stated.

Dr. Tang enjoys hearing students' enthusiasm for medicine and believes that the best doctors are those who have a passion for their work.

"I think back to my medical school interview with Dr. Charles Vincent, and I think he saw in me someone who was passionate about medicine. Money was never the reason I went into this field. I went into medicine because I knew it was something I would love to do for the rest of my life," said Dr. Tang.

Inspirational School of Medicine faculty like Charles Lucas, M.D., '62, Res. '67, and Anna Ledgerwood, M.D., Res. '72, also guided Dr. Tang in her choice of medical specialty.

"Wayne State prepared me for my career. I had my choice of residency programs, and after visiting multiple surgical programs, I chose to come back to Wayne for a surgical internship. As an intern, I knew I would do more at Detroit General Hospital than most residents at other places," Dr. Tang recounts.

Dr. Tang did well during her surgical internship. She knew, however, that as a woman starting her career in the late seventies, going into private practice as a surgeon would be difficult.

"As a female Asian, I had to be pragmatic. Men dominated surgical private practice, and so I decided to switch to anesthesiology. As an anesthesiologist, my surgical background and medical education has played a crucial role in my success," Dr. Tang said. 

Through her determination, Dr. Tang overcame various obstacles to pursue her passion for medicine—a passion she believes she shares with her fellow alumni.

"Wayne State doctors are great clinicians," Dr. Tang emphasized. "We care about treating our patients, and when faced with any challenges, we roll up our sleeves and just do it."

Dr. Tang hopes that others will see the value of supporting students through scholarships and establish a similar fund. To learn more about giving to the School of Medicine, contact Patty Paquin at or 313-577-0026.

(March 6, 2018)

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