Freshmen Welcomed into the Medical Profession at Pinning Ceremony

Kicking off alumni weekend, the Class of 2014 was officially welcomed into the Miller School family and the medical profession Friday evening during the 11th Annual John G. Clarkson Freshman Pinning Ceremony, a celebration filled with pomp, circumstance, and plenty of pride.

There were cheers and a few tears of joy from picture-taking parents, friends and other loved ones as 149 members of the class, grouped with their academic societies, strode across the stage in pairs to receive the gold, orange and green pin awarded after the near-completion of the first year of medical school by an alumnus or upper classman.

At least seven class members were pinned by a parent or sibling who preceded their loved one to the Miller School a few years or a few decades ago.

“I am so proud to follow my sister here,’’ said a beaming Maddie Kubiliun, who received a big hug along with the lapel pin from sister Nisa, a 2003 grad who was a member of and later a mentor to the Virchow Society where her sister is now assigned. “I don’t know how that happened. I think fate came into play.’’

The son of two physicians and a member of the Adler-Everitt Society, Austin Dosch said the pinning ceremony reminded him of why he chose to follow in his parent’s footsteps: to help people.

“Attending the Miller School is a privilege, not only because we get the opportunity to learn about incredibly engaging and interesting material, but we have the chance to serve the community and change lives,’’ Dosch said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision.’’

In welcoming visiting parents, many who came from great distances and colder climes, Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., thanked them for the sacrifices they made to enable the success of their sons and daughters.

“I bet that by now you have a pretty good idea what is required to become a physician – in terms of hard work, focus and commitment,’’ Dean Goldschmidt said, noting class members will embark on their careers at a time when stem cell, nanotechnology and other medical advances once viewed as science fiction will revolutionize medicine.

“There will be a very large shift where, luckily, prevention of disease will be the emphasis, maintenance of health will be the emphasis – as opposed to waiting for the disease to occur and react to it once it is already advanced in our patients,’’ Dean Goldschmidt said. “It’s a very exciting time for all of us.’’

In an eloquent keynote address titled “On Becoming a Physician,’’ Professor Emeritus Arvey I. Rogers, M.D., former chief of gastroenterology and now assistant dean for continuing medical education, harkened to Charles Dickens’ opening line in “A Tale of Two Cities” to describe the challenges of practicing medicine today: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Noting that external influences are eroding the cornerstone of medicine, the physician-patient relationship, Rogers shared many of the personal aphorisms that have made his journey as a physician “a daily joy’’ and inspired his “culture of professionalism.’’

“Be for your patient,’’ he said, “by sharpening or acquiring skills enabling you to bond in a minute; by being an active listener interested in learning the facts … by exhibiting humor when appropriate, by being truthful … by recognizing your limitations, correcting what you can, and asking for help when you cannot … by feeling compassion and empathy, yet not allowing either to compromise your objectivity … by remembering that holding a hand is sometimes as or more important than examining one.’’

In another moving highlight, student Rachel Russo, the Miller School’s representative in the AAMC’s Organization of Student Representatives, awarded the Humanism in Medicine Award to Barth Green, M.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery, for inspiring students “to achieve more, reach higher and get involved.’’

In accepting the honor, Green demonstrated the same humility and devotion with which he led the Miller School’s unprecedented emergency response in Haiti after last year’s catastrophic earthquake.

“It is a privilege for every one of us to serve and heal,’’ Green said. “No one should get an award for doing what they love.’’

Named in honor of Dean Emeritus John G. Clarkson, the ceremony was organized and directed by second-year students Jennifer Murdock and Cristina Escobar under the guidance of Robert Hernandez, M.D., senior associate dean for medical student administration, and Alex Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education.

It opened with another unrelated but welcomed celebration: the presentation of the Dean’s Cup to Dean Goldschmidt. Medical students recently seized back the cup by besting students at UM’s School of Law in a series of athletic and other contests,

The ceremony closed with Ruth Schobel, M.D., ’81, the first women to preside over the Medical Alumni Association, leading students in the recitation of the Declaration of Geneva, and Dr. Mechaber and his wife, Hilit Mechaber, M.D., assistant dean for student services, both UM and Miller School grads, leading the singing of the alma mater.

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