Third-Year Students Earn Their Stripes with Their Scrubs

Third-year students “earned their stripes” Monday, receiving their official UHealth scrubs following a ceremony that honored a pioneering cardiac surgeon and revered humanitarian who Miller School leaders hope students emulate as they begin seeing patients on the wards.

Marking the transition from the classroom to the clinical setting, the third annual Hooshang Bolooki, M.D., Junior Scrubs Ceremony gave Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and William O’Neill, M.D., executive dean for clinical affairs, the chance to introduce students to the late physician who served as a role model and mentor to generations of students and physicians during his 41 years at the Miller School.

“Hooshang Bolooki was one of the individuals who had the ability to create a unique relationship with his patients, the ability to communicate with them, to earn their trust, to get them through very difficult steps,’’ said the Dean, who is also chief executive officer of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. “He was a fabulous surgeon, but he was also a really remarkable human being…and that is the point of this ceremony: It’s not just knowing medicine that helps you be a great physician. It’s not just the technical skills of medicine that makes you a great physician. It’s that very deep sense of responsibility, that very deep quality of humanity.’’

Dr. O’Neill, who is also chief medical officer for UHealth, drew analogies between medical and military training, telling students that the dark green scrubs embroidered with their name and the UHealth logo are not only walking billboards for UHealth, but serve as a “sign of earning your stripes.”

“You’ve just been through two years of boot camp and now you’re going onto specialized training,’’ Dr. O’Neill said. “This is the transition where you go from being students, memorizing like mad, to actually taking all that knowledge you learned over the last two years and impacting patient lives.’’

Tomas Salerno, M.D., professor and vice chair of surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, also addressed the students, sharing highlights of Dr. Bolooki’s remarkable career, and some of the personal attributes that made him so special. The first surgeon to perform a heart transplant in South Florida – with cardiologist Eduardo de Marchena, M.D., associate dean of international medicine on his team – Bolooki also spearheaded the development of the UM/Jackson transplant program and made many significant contributions to medical literature, including authoring several editions of Clinical Application of Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump.

Taking students under his wing, he was a revered father figure who led – and taught – by example.

“When you put on your scrub suits, I hope you will remember what Dr. Bolooki represents: integrity, honesty, hard working, dedication to his patients, incredible bedside manner,’’ Salerno said. “When I walk into the operating room and put on the scrub suit, I try to emulate this man.’’

Leaving the ceremony in the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building’s fifth-floor auditorium, junior Cynthia Donna expressed regret that she would never meet Dr. Bolooki, but she was eager to live up to his legacy. “I’ll definitely think of him as the kind of example I should follow,” she said.

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