Mission: Medical School

If you are picky about selecting the perfect parking space in the commuter lot on Gale Lemerand Drive, you know to arrive by 8 a.m. That’s because University of Florida College of Medicine students are back, and, only days after orientation, the troop of students are in full force.

Gone are their days of wearing “regular clothes” as they have been replaced with new uniforms and accoutrements: university-issued scrubs and their own personal stethoscopes. These symbols of medicine are definitely making the medical school experience a reality for first-year medical students.

“The stethoscope has always been such a symbol of medicine to me growing up that to actually receive one of my own to use was very humbling,” said Chloe Russo, who received her undergraduate degree from Emory University. Russo and her classmates received stethoscopes during a presentation sponsored by the COM Office of Medical Alumni affairs on their first official day of classes, Monday, Aug. 17.

“It was the first tangible thing that brought me into the realm of medicine, a veritable badge of honor and duty,” Russo said.

The group of 135 medical students, newly equipped with their tools and uniforms, embark on their next four-year journey; one that will result in a special bond as they share life-changing experiences and challenges such as anatomy lab and late-night study sessions.

For now, most of the 135 students are still new to each other. While 72 students received their undergraduate degrees from UF, the remaining 63 students graduated from universities such as Auburn, Boston, Cornell, Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington. They arrive equipped with majors ranging from animal biology to art.

The students were selected from a pool of more than 2,600 applicants and come to the COM with an average GPA of 3.78 and include 75 males and 60 females.

“You are special,” said Dr. James B. Duke, a 1985 graduate from the COM and alumni board member, who addressed the medical school recruits at the stethoscope presentation. “To have overcome the hurdles needed to attend this prestigious college of medicine is evidence of that.”

Armed with laptops and stethoscopes and outfitted to withstand the hazards of lab work, the new students have immersed themselves in their new lives as medical students. They also carry with them the words of COM interim Dean, Dr. Michael Good:

“Listening is perhaps the greatest diagnostic skill of a physician,” he said. Every time you see or touch a stethoscope, ask yourselves, ‘Am I listening carefully to my patients and their families?’”