For medical students, the White Coat ceremony, held early in their first year, and Match Day, held near the end of their fourth year, are among the most anticipated and meaningful events they will experience during their medical school years.
On Saturday, April 21, 2018, the Geisel School of Medicine’s Class of 2020 reached another important milestone in their journey to becoming physicians when they joined faculty, family, and friends at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Auditoria A-D for Geisel’s Transition Ceremony.
The annual ceremony, held at the end of the second year, is a Geisel tradition which serves to commemorate medical students’ transition from the preclinical to the clinical years of medical school.
This year’s event included dinner, a student slideshow (which captured memories from their first two years), and faculty and student speakers who shared stories from their own experiences—offering advice, support and some well-timed humor to help ease the anxiety many of the rising third-year’s may be feeling as they look forward to their first clerkship rotations.
“Transitions are really important moments in our lives, and right now, I hope you are all taking the time to be present in this moment,” said Roshini Pinto-Powell, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate dean of student affairs and of admissions at Geisel, who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
“This coming year will fly by, I can promise you that,” she continued. “I do caution you, though, that while I said it will be fun, I did not say it will be easy. Be kind to yourselves and to each other, be collaborative, and learn from and appreciate what every member of the professional team brings to the table to help us care for our patients. Medicine really is a team sport and you are going to be a very important part of the team.”
Faculty speaker Lawrence Myers, PhD, associate professor in the departments of Medical Education and Biochemistry and Cell Biology, encouraged the students to carry forward some of the traits he has appreciated most about their class—being thoughtful learners and being activists for positive change—as they move into their clinical years. “I also want to tell you that you will be teachers throughout your careers, no matter what you do,” said Myers, who shared some lessons learned from his father about the importance of teaching outside the classroom. “Meet your learners where they are, appreciate the small things, and never stop looking for opportunities to teach.”
As part of the tradition of the ceremony, the second-year students heard remarks from a fourth-year student and Gold Humanism Foundation member. This year it was Stacey Chu ’18, who offered some words of wisdom and reassurance to the class. In addition, seven residents, nominated by Geisel’s Class of 2019, received the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards. After receiving certificates and pins (provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation), each shared a few words of advice with the class on how to get the most out of their third year.
The recipients were:
- Cybele Arsan, MD, Psychiatry
- Justin M. Cirone, MD, Surgery
- Michael V. Heinz, MD, Psychiatry
- John E. Howe, MD, Internal Medicine
- David J. Linshaw, MD, Surgery
- Valerie J. Valant, MD, OB/GYN
- Allison R. Wilcox, MD, Surgery
While student speaker, Chad Lewis ’20, talked frankly about how challenging medical school can be and touched on some of the struggles that he and his classmates have had to overcome, his message was an uplifting one.
“I’ve been so impressed by all of the determination and perseverance you have all shown over the past two years, and I’m proud to call myself a member of the class of 2020,” he said. “We’ve done a lot to change Geisel since arriving here. Our class is special, and I have no doubt that we will continue to do great things during the rest of our time here and beyond.
“As we transition into the clinical years and spread out throughout the country…it is imperative that we maintain the bonds we have worked hard to forge, and that we carry each other over the finish line as one cohesive family,” added Lewis. “Most of all, always remember that you deserve to be here.”
Before the ceremony was adjourned, the students stood and recited their mission statement together, and Joseph O’Donnell, MD, former senior advising dean at Geisel, who helped bring the White Coat and Transition Ceremonies to the medical school, told the students a story about the gift they were to receive—the Book of Wisdom, a collection of moving stories from their fourth-year peers.