Robert Foust’s description of his father, Dr. Wilson A. Foust, evokes memories of an era when family doctors were able to become deeply involved in the communities where they practiced.
"My father never closed the door to a patient," he recalls. "One day he made 22 house calls and still had an extraordinary number of patients at the office. He stayed open. If he needed to make house calls in the middle of the night, he would do that, too. He was a clear example of commitment to medicine and the patient."
His father's approach to medicine and the community was an inspiration to Foust.
"Naturally, we children became involved as well," he says.
Dr. Foust was a 1929 graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, which became Drexel University College of Medicine in 2002. When Robert and his brother, Wilson Jr., were searching for a way to honor their father's 50 years in medicine and their parents' 50 years of marriage, the brothers decided to dedicate a scholarship at his alma mater for students interested in family practice.
The Wilson and Elizabeth Foust Scholarship Fund helps create pathways for student success in an area of particular need. It supports the viewpoint of the College of Medicine that excellence in medical education flows from a commitment to providing diverse students the opportunity to practice in a variety of settings.
The scholarship also speaks to the brothers' desire to help students financially and academically, while impressing on them the importance of serving their community — just as their father did. The fund makes it possible for the Drexel University College of Medicine to stay true to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Family physician sets a model for service and engagement
Foust says his father's ceaseless dedication to help others influenced his own chosen path.
"That was one of the primary reasons I got into the political arena working for two U.S. senators: Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and Kent Conrad (D-ND)," Foust says. "Both were deeply committed to constituent services."
“It's critically important to understand what other people are struggling with, and you can only do that when you get out into the community.”
Foust worked on the Pell Grant program that has provided financial assistance to more than 70 million higher education students and helps many Drexel students to this day. The same desire to serve also contributed to Foust's work on one of Senator Conrad's post 9/11 achievements: getting food aid to orphans and widows living under the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Foust sees his own commitments to health care as a human right and justice reflected across Drexel University, in its distinctive passion for community engagement. He says he is excited about the Health Outreach Project run by DUCoM, which offers care to underserved Philadelphians through free health clinics and other services run by Drexel medical students.
"It goes to the heart of my priorities and those of my father: to serve and reach out," he says. "It's critically important to understand what other people are struggling with, and you can only do that when you get out into the community."