Saturday, May 11, 2013

Medical School Graduation: The "Calling"

Today was graduation for the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM).  It was a privilege being a part of this special day for the graduates; I was honored to be a recipient of a Trustee Teaching Award, and so I was able to sit on the stage for the ceremony and watch all of the graduates receive the hood, as well as congratulations from the Deans.  What an awesome spectacle!  Over 300 IUSM medical students became physicians, and their names now all end with “MD”.  Very cool!
I wonder what others think about graduation ceremonies.  It is a long day for all; the room is packed with people (there were over 3000 at the Sagamore Ballroom at the Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis). Parents, grandparents, spouses, significant others, friends, children and others were able to witness this special day for the graduates.  I saw the pride in so many faces.  Eight of them will be joining me as part of the IUSM Med-Peds Residency Program (sorry, my pics didn’t turn out so great; you all walk too fast!).
One student who would have graduated today passed away earlier this year.  His wife spoke to those in attendance after an honorary posthumous degree was granted.  There was not a dry eye in the room, including my own.
This year our amazing Dean, Dr. D. Craig Brater, is retiring after over 25 years of service to the IUSM. He will certainly be missed, and has been the face of IUSM, leading us with honesty, integrity, and humility for 13 years.
In addition, graduation today included a keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Nasca, the CEO of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which is responsible for graduate medical education in the United States.  It was an honor to meet him before the ceremony.  Dr. Nasca is probably one of the busiest physicians in the United States now, overseeing the accreditation of all of the training programs of residents and fellows.  He is an internationally known medical educator.  We were blessed to have him be part of the ceremony.

In his address today, he showed no slides about duty hours.  He did not mention Milestones or competencies.  Rather, he focused on the “why” of going into medicine, as a “calling”.  He told a story about a dialysis patient who had an incredible impact on him when he was in nephrology training.  He reiterated why many of us choose medicine as a profession: to care for others, and delved into the impact that a patient can have that teaches us as physicians or physicians-in-training.  This was inspiring, and helped me to reflect and understand why I do what I do: to help patients, to train the doctors of the future, and to help educate students, residents and faculty in some small way. 
To all the medical students graduating and becoming physicians over the next few weeks: kudos to you for all of your hard work.  The journey is not yet over, and the learning is really just beginning!  Be proud of your amazing accomplishments, but more importantly, embrace what lies ahead.  The opportunities to do good in the world, and care for others, are now coming to fruition.  Congratulations to the class of 2013!

P.S. If you were wondering, yes I did tweet parts of the graduation.  Check out the hashtag #IUSMGraduation for tweets and pics.


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