Jim Slotnick was born in 1954 in Buffalo, New York. His family headed west to California in 1965, where he lived the Golden Dream — body surfing at the beach, delivering newspapers for pocket change and pitching for his high school baseball team. School took Jim east again, where he initially attended Middlebury College in Vermont, but the west coast’s siren song was too much to resist. After transferring to UC Berkeley for his second year of college, Jim eventually ended up at San Francisco State, where he pursued his passion for filmmaking.
Although he never lost his love for movies, Jim ultimately decided that the best way he could make the kind of difference he wanted in the world was by becoming a doctor, providing services to those most in need. Jim completed UCLA’s pre-med courses and gained admission to UCLA’s School of Medicine in 1981, regularly volunteering at The Los Angeles Free Clinic (now Saban Community Clinic) at the same time, serving the population he was most dedicated to.
During his first year of medical school Jim came down with a set of symptoms that turned out to be caused by an aggressive brain tumor. Sadly, he wasn’t able to complete his course of study at UCLA. But he did finish an extraordinary autobiographical book, A Short Life, documenting his two-year battle with his illness.
Jim died in 1983, just hours after finishing his book. In 1984 The Los Angeles Free Clinic initiated a summer Fellowship in Jim’s name, providing UCLA medical students with the chance to carry out the Clinic’s mission of delivering medical care to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. More than thirty years later, the Jim Slotnick Fellowship in Medicine and Jim’s spirit live on.