New Miller School Students Join an Extraordinary Environment
Miller School Dean Edward Abraham, M.D., greeted an auditorium full of people who are even newer to the University of Miami than he is — the members of the M.D. Class of 2021, who gathered last week for orientation.
“You’re an absolutely spectacular class,” the Dean said. “This is a wonderful fit for you and a wonderful environment.”
A key element of that is the highly supportive educational setting. “The curriculum has been designed to support you, to help you grow and become not just great physicians, but physician leaders,” Abraham said. “We really expect you to be the leaders of medicine when you leave here, and throughout your career. It’s very important for us that we achieve that.”
In contrast with the brand new dean, Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy, told the 148 new students, “I came to Jackson to direct the medical house staff program at a time when you were probably not yet a vision in your parents’ eyes.
“I came because of the extraordinary opportunity to learn and teach in one of America’s great and vanishing public safety net hospitals.” In a landscape where many safety net hospitals have closed “because the social conscience and the dollars to support a mission such as Jackson’s are no longer available in many communities,” the commitment to Jackson persists, Gardner said, in no small measure because of the partnership between Jackson and the University of Miami.
“The commitment to the social mission of medicine is still alive and well here,” said Gardner, who also addressed the 51 new students in the M.D./M.P.H. program at their June 26 orientation. “This environment continues to make me happy and inspires me to come to work in the morning with enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to watching your enthusiasm as well. Welcome!”
The social mission of medicine was a big draw for freshman Mahmood Al Bayati, who comes from a family of physicians and whose brother is a fourth-year student at the Miller School.
“One of the biggest things that attracted me to the University of Miami was the DOCS program” — the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service, in which students and physicians provide screening and other health care services in underserved communities.
“At the Little Haiti health fair, I saw the impact that we have on our community,” he said. “For a large number of people, we are their primary source of health care. They don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Another reason the Miller School was the Number One choice for Al Bayati, who was born in Baghdad, lived in Dubai, and graduated from Georgia College and State University, is the many levels of support for students.
“The faculty here don’t just talk about caring for their students,” said Al Bayati, who spent a couple of years before medical school shadowing Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., chief of hematology-oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and William J. Harrington Chair in Hematology. “They’re available at any time if students ever need anything. And I also love the academic societies, having those levels of support that help you get through the tough parts of medical school.
“I also love the clinical exposure we get here. The kind of exposure we get you can’t really get anywhere else — it’s a big hub where people come in, not only from here but from the Southeast United States and South America.”
Al Bayati and his colleagues worked hard to stand out in a large group of applicants to the M.D. and M.D./M.P.H. classes. Richard Weisman, Pharm.D., associate dean for medical admissions and enrollment, shared statistics with the group showing a total of 8,081 applicants, of whom 568 were interviewed by the Admissions Committee. One out of every 40 applicants matriculated, for a total of 148 in the M.D. program and 51 in the M.D./M.P.H. program.
The diversity of both the M.D. and M.D./M.P.H. programs continues to increase, reaching its highest levels ever in this year’s entering class. Close to 60 percent of the students are women, and 52 percent of the M.D. students and 47 percent of the M.D./M.P.H. students are minorities.
Strategic recruiting has been key to this progress. “Our president has made diversity and inclusion a priority for the University, and as a school we have followed suit and have done aggressive recruiting to ensure that we bring a diverse and inclusive class,” Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education and senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education, said in an earlier conversation. “We need to be producing physicians who are representative of the community we care for.”
To attract a student body that reflects the community, “we are making ourselves available to admitted students and making them feel connected,” Mechaber said.
“We want people to put down roots and to stay here,” Weisman added. “In survey after survey, patients will say that they want to be seen by someone of the same gender and often the same ethnicity.”
A photo gallery from the Class of 2021 orientation can be seen here.