CINCINNATI—Onstage at the Aronoff Center downtown the morning of Friday, Aug. 10, the dean of the UC College of Medicine had a simple greeting to the new class 2016: "Welcome to the family.”
The students, 171 of them, had just completed their symbolic entry into medical school by putting on their white coats with assistance from faculty and shaking the hand of Thomas Boat, MD, dean and vice president for health affairs. The ceremony is an annual tradition welcoming new students into the college and their medical career.
This class was selected from close to 5,000 applications and represents one of the academically strongest College of Medicine classes to date.
"You’ve had a broad range of experiences and perspectives and a high level of diversity,” said Boat. "You’re certainly intelligent—your average cumulative GPA is 3.72, the highest ever in the history of the college.”
Boat also addressed the unique cultural environment in which these students will learn and eventually practice medicine.
"You are products of a millennial generation,” he said. "You are connected to others through technology and to the outside world in unprecedented ways. You get more input, but you’re also subject to more distractions than previous generations. But your connectedness will prepare you to partner seamlessly—this will be a decided advantage as the practice of medicine is, increasingly, a team endeavor.”
Among the new class was student Elizabeth Hathaway, 26, from Muncie, Ind. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and working for a division of the Nielsen company in sales forecasting, she cemented her decision to study medicine in Cincinnati.
"I wanted to go to medical school because physicians are able to help people in a meaningful, direct way, and the work continually offers new, thought-provoking challenges,” says Hathaway.
Student Karen Chao has already been recognized for her passion for medicine, winning an Arnold P. Gold for Humanism in Medicine Award for her essay about growing up with immigrant parents who could not afford health insurance and her work volunteering as a medical interpreter at a free clinic.
"Deep down, I’ve known that I wanted to pursue medicine ever since I was 6 years old," she says. "Medicine is the perfect intersection of science and humanity—where I can build upon the scientific knowledge I already know and will come to know and use my skills to truly make a difference in people’s lives.”
Dan Nisi, from Indianapolis, is the child of two UC College of Medicine graduates. He said he’s proud to attend his parents’ alma mater and "happy to continue my family's work into a new era of medicine.”
"I decided to attend medical school because I've always wanted to help make an impact on the lives of those people around me," he says.
Chair of the department of family and community medicine Philip Diller, MD, PhD, gave the ceremony’s keynote address on behalf of former UC physician Susan Montauk, MD.
Montauk, a physician with UC’s department of family and community medicine, died in 2011 at the age of 61—she received posthumous recognition with the 2012 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
Montauk devoted much of her professional life to working with the underserved population in Cincinnati, including the homeless and those with AIDS. In the early 1990s she was one of the few family doctors working with AIDS patients.
Before the final note of the ceremony, when the students repeat their oath of professionalism, Boat reminded the class to wear their new coats with dignity and humility—and as a sign of a commitment to service.
"I hope you see this as the first step in what will be a very engaging and productive four years here, at the start of your career,” said Boat. "We here in the College of Medicine expect great things of you.”