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For Release: June 14, 2011
David Corriveau 603-653-1978
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Dartmouth Medical School celebrates 166 graduates

New doctor Sarah Edwards, second from left, celebrates with her parents—Dartmouth pediatricians Susan T. Edwards and William H. Edwards—and her sister Caroline Edwards
Photo by Flying Squirrel Graphics

Hanover, NH—Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) bade farewell to 166 students—among them 68 newly-minted doctors—in Class Day ceremonies on June 11.

During the traditional celebration on the day before the conferring of degrees at Dartmouth College's Commencement, graduates of DMS received hoods from their schools' leaders—as well as advice from their peers and from the keynote speaker to seek out challenges in their practices and their careers, to embrace uncertainty, and to remember what they learned here.

"We will lead very different lives," Erin E. Sullivan told her 67 fellow MD recipients. The class of 2011's student-government president urged them to "think often of your Dartmouth family," during what she hopes are "long and fruitful careers."

Dr. Don Caruso, one of nine MDs and 49 students overall who received Master of Public Health degrees for their studies at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), told the assembly that the pursuit of his MPH rivaled the hurdles of his first practice in northern New England, where the next-nearest doctor practiced 90 miles away and many patients lacked insurance and resources.

Yet he declared it worth the struggle.

"Look for those challenges," said Caruso, associate medical director for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene. "Seek them out. The amount of growth you will attain is unlimited. We've been given an incredible amount of training to make a difference."

Dean Wiley 'Chip' Souba presents The Dean's Medal to DMS graduate Laura Amar-Dolan, for best overall achievement during four years at DMS
Photo by Flying Squirrel Graphics

With the Medical School's Dean, Dr. Wiley "Chip" Souba, presiding over his first Class Day at Dartmouth, DMS conferred hoods on 29 candidates for doctoral and master of science degrees. One of the former—Michael B. Miller, recipient of a PhD in biochemistry—harkened back to guidance he received from his DMS advisor, Surachai Supattapone, MD, PhD, in encouraging his peers to challenge conventional wisdom and textbook facts during their careers in medical research.

"Become comfortable with uncertainty," Miller said. "The foundation (of scientific knowledge) is not made of concrete, but of sand that can shift beneath our feet."

Keynote speaker Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, echoed Miller's advice to researchers, saying, "You're working on an answer that's not in the back of the book."

Kirch added that the search for answers to gaps in the system of healthcare delivery—including the lack of a "medical home" for primary care even among privileged people with insurance coverage—will test all the graduates.

"This is a matter of your ethical obligations, not your politics," Kirch said. "We haven't yet attained social justice in our country. We have a healthcare system that's made up of haves and have-nots."

While growing up with two parents—pediatricians William H. Edwards, MD, and Susan T. Edwards, MD—practicing medicine and teaching at DMS, Sarah Edwards at first resisted the temptation follow them into a career in healthcare.

"I knew how hard it would be, so I decided to try a business career," the younger Edwards said after the ceremony, during which her father lowered the MD hood on her shoulders. "After a while, I remembered how I'd seen the relationships my parents had with their patients. I like that direct contact with people's lives that I just wasn't seeing. So I came back home."

While seven of the new MDs will continue their training with residencies at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the rest of the class will fan out to placements in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

Among award winners in the class of 2011, the Dean's Medal went to Laura Amar-Dolan, the choice of the faculty as the student with the best overall record of achievement. Fabrizio Galimberti received the John W. Strohbehn Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research. And the class of 2011 conferred the Good Physician Award on Thomas D. Frandsen. Additional awards are viewable here.

Transcripts of the student speeches are viewable here: MD Erin Sullivan, PhD Michael Miller, MPH Don Caruso


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