The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth celebrated the accomplishments of 88 new graduates of its MD program during Class Day ceremonies on Saturday, June 6 at Dartmouth’s Leede Arena.
In addition to receiving hoods denoting their degree, graduating students also received sage advice from Dartmouth faculty, alumni, peers, and special guest speakers.
The Class Day address was delivered by Lorna B. Stuart, DPhil, MD, a family physician for more than thirty years and medical director of The Clinic, a nonprofit medical clinic in Phoenixville, PA, to “provide quality health care to the uninsured in an atmosphere that fosters dignity and respect.”
Dr. Stuart encouraged the graduates to keep compassion at the center of the care they provide.
She said as physicians, “whether in a university hospital or a community clinic, we must remember this—compassion must be the cornerstone: we cannot always cure, indeed we frequently cannot cure a patient, but we can always heal.”
“Heal with a warm handshake, heal by looking at the patient and listening to the patient, heal by helping the impoverished patient with some inexpensive choices, heal with a smile. Compassion is healing, and no matter how rushed, how tired, how busy you are, you can smile, you can shake a hand, you can sit by a patient’s bed to talk, you can hold a hand. None of this is beneath you. This makes the difference between a doctor and a beloved physician.”
Geisel Interim Dean Duane Compton noted that the new physicians were entering a health care system faced with increasing economic pressure, political uncertainty, and great technological innovations.
“But with every challenge comes great opportunity,” he added. “The opportunity that now presents itself to you is to be part of transforming the future state of medicine and health care and to do so using the loftiest of ideals—medical care rooted in compassion that emphasizes the best outcome for the patient and that leverages prevention and wellness to reduce the economic impact of care. That will build a better world.”
Student speaker Massimo G. Tarulli MED ’15 reflected on the significance of graduates trading in the short white coats of students for the longer coats of physicians. “I hope you will use these extra inches of white coat to remind you of your role as an advocate for your patients who may not be able to advocate for themselves and your responsibility first and foremost to the people you serve,” he said. “It may seem daunting initially with all the other responsibilities of internship and the added stressors of sleep deprivation, workload, and life in general. But remember that you have taken this leap before and you have come out the stellar class that is here today.”
Sarah G. Johansen, MED ’90, asst. professor of medicine and President of the Geisel Alumni Council, welcomed the graduates as new alumni and reminded them of the importance of staying connected to their medical school and each other.
“For now go and do good work in your residencies. We don't expect to hear much for a few years, not today or tomorrow, but remember, like medical school, residency is not three to seven years of your life ‘set aside.’ The demands change their form, but balance is never more important than when a lot is being asked of you,” she said. “So stay connected with those you care about most, come back for your fifth reunion, and call on your friends both near or far when you need encouragement. Your community is here in the Upper Valley and around the world to support you. You will always be part of this Geisel family.”
Traditionally, Geisel’s Class Day ceremony is held the same weekend as Dartmouth College’s Commencement, but this year the event was moved to accommodate the earlier start dates of many of the residency programs the graduates will be entering as they continue their training at top teaching hospitals around the country.
Geisel’s other graduating students will receive their diplomas Sunday, June 14 in ceremonies held in conjunction with Dartmouth’s Commencement.