From Rising Star to Board Member
Victoria Kozar stands out as an exceptional healthcare advocate within our passionate community. In just six years she has already left an indelible mark through her dedication to the field of geriatrics and dementia care. As a highly respected Care Coordinator and Director of Memory Care units in the state, Victoria has woven her expertise into the very fabric of healthcare. Moreover, her role as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Medical Science Advisory Council and as a Health Policy Ambassador to local legislators underscores her unwavering commitment to advocating for those in need.
Victoria's outstanding contributions have not gone unnoticed. She was honored with the HMS 2023 Horace Wells Humanitarian Award for the Rising Star Practitioner of the Year—an accolade that recognizes her exemplary dedication to humanitarian service and the pursuit of excellence in healthcare. Additionally, Victoria's accomplishments include being named an American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry Scholar and sharing her expertise with the Associated Press News, ABC World News Now, TedX, and more. Her research pursuits, with a focus on improving accessibility to memory testing and examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on resilience and cognition in older adults, have yielded publications in prestigious journals such as the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, and the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
In this exclusive Q&A session, we had the privilege of delving into the insights, aspirations, and vision of Victoria Kozar—a professional whose journey in healthcare is marked by exceptional dedication and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Victoria's multifaceted career and her active involvement with the Hartford Medical Society present a narrative of a healthcare advocate who is shaping the future of geriatrics and dementia care within both the clinical setting and also a broader societal level.
(HMS) Tell me about your background and experience in healthcare.
(VK) I've been working in healthcare for as long as I can remember. My first job I think I was fourteen or fifteen. I was working as a physical therapy aide teaching water aerobics to older adults. Fast forward to my senior year of college, I was living at Masonicare's assisted living community, as part of the students and residence program so not necessarily working in health care but living healthcare- seeing how older adults interact with their medical providers, deficits that they experience personally in their care, and just seeing what day to day was like for them. I've done clinical research; I worked in health information management for a while before medical school. The job that I'm most proud of is I was the director of a couple dementia care units which was very special to me. Now in medical school, I'm fortunate to continue my work with those living with dementia through advocacy with the Alzheimer's Association. It's a journey that I'm not only proud of but also one that I'm thrilled to carry forward in my ongoing education.
How did you get involved with HMS?
I became familiar once I was nominated for the 2023 Horace Wells Humanitarian Award for the Rising Star Practitioner of the Year.
You were awarded our 2023 Horace Wells Humanitarian Award and named the Rising Star Practitioner of the Year – how will your experiences and accomplishments inform your contributions and perspective as a newly appointed member of the Board of Directors?
It was such a huge honor to get that award. Most importantly, education is at the core of much of what I do. I've developed curriculum and innovative learning modules over at UConn, and my goal is to make the learning experience not just informative but fun and interactive. I envision history coming to life, bridging the past with the present, and inspiring the future. This is a community that I want to see flourish. It's filled with so many kind and passionate individuals and we want that next generation of doctors to get to experience that.
I will say young professionals are eager. The challenges of starting medical school during the pandemic taught us the value of networking and mentorship. It was an isolating experience, and it's left us hungry for opportunities to build a sense of community. Now is the time for us to come together, to mentor, and to foster a spirit of unity and support.
What is your long-term vision for HMS, and how do you see the organization evolving to meet the changing needs of the Greater Hartford region?
My vision for HMS is to transform it into a dynamic ecosystem. I want it to be a place where mentorship, support, and community thrive. We should be a diverse community, welcoming trainees, early-career physicians, and seasoned professionals, where knowledge flows freely in both directions. HMS should support scholarly endeavors and offer cutting-edge programs with inspiring speakers and thoughtful discussion and panels. I think a good direction to go into is to have networking events and have conversations around service as well. There's so much that we can do for the Greater Hartford region.
How do you envision balancing cultivating a dynamic, empowered younger generation of healthcare professionals and preserving the cherished history and traditions that define our organization?
So personally, I feel logically these two go hand-in-hand. So much of medicine is rooted in a sacred tradition, and there's something profoundly compelling about showcasing to the young professionals how the very medicine they practice today has been shaped and influenced by their predecessors, especially in this state. But what sets us apart is our ability to intertwine the old with the new, blending emerging topics in medicine with our rich history. This unique perspective is something truly extraordinary, something that you won't find anywhere else.
In what new ways should HMS foster a culture of innovation and collaboration among healthcare professionals within the community, especially those just starting their careers?
As I touched upon earlier, mentorship and networking are so valuable. We have so many members of HMS who have such wisdom and I want to make sure that's passed down to the next generation of Physicians. I think having a strong social media presence, meeting people where they are and how they engage, and having a campus presence is crucial. It’s important we support the scholarly endeavors of young trainees, whether that be through research or service trips. Our goal is for our members to go beyond merely being part of HMS – we want them to maintain an ongoing, active connection. As they progress in their early careers, we aim for them to look back and recognize HMS as an essential part of their journey. This sense of reciprocity, this enduring connection between the past and the present, is what genuinely defines our community.
Are you ready to unlock a world of knowledge, collaboration, and inspiration in healthcare? If so, HMS is calling your name.
Victoria Kozar's passion for geriatrics and dementia care, combined with her dedication to education and innovation, promises to bring fresh perspectives and dynamic ideas to the Hartford Medical Society. Her commitment to nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals while preserving the rich history of HMS is a testament to her vision for a thriving healthcare community in Greater Hartford. We look forward to the positive impact she will bring on the HMS Board of Directors.
As we reflect on Victoria's journey and her aspirations for HMS, we invite you to consider joining our vibrant community. When you choose to join HMS, you embark on a journey that opens doors to thought-provoking events and invaluable networking opportunities. These experiences will not only expand your knowledge but also challenge you to think beyond the confines of your medical specialty. Within our community, you'll find a diverse array of like-minded professionals, from seasoned physicians brimming with wisdom to aspiring students teeming with passion.
By becoming an HMS member, you're not just signing up for an organization; you're immersing yourself in a dynamic and forward-thinking community that thrives on collaborative efforts. Here, your ideas become catalysts for change, your experiences a source of inspiration, and your contributions are the building blocks of a brighter future in healthcare. Just as Victoria Kozar informs the future of HMS, your journey with us is destined to be both enriching and influential.