New med students flood The Swamp

On Wednesday, 135 eager students took the first step toward becoming Gator doctors.

The UF College of Medicine welcomed the class of 2017 to Gainesville with its first-year orientation activities, which kicked off with a casual gathering at The Swamp Restaurant July 31 and will culminate with the dean’s reception at Emerson Alumni Hall Wednesday.

“It makes you feel like you’re at home,” said Rachel Pierce, 26, a first-year medical student who earned her undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Aside from the meet-and-greet and dean’s reception, the college offers other orientation activities throughout the week, including CPR training, small group workshops, faculty lectures and socials, like an informal gathering at Lake Wauburg.

A group of students from the class of 2017 try on their stethoscopes for size. Photo by Jesse S. Jones.

A group of students from the class of 2017 try on their stethoscopes for size. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

One of the more surprising events for new students was the special presentation by the UF Medical Alumni Association, where they each received the quintessential doctor’s tool: a stethoscope.

“Not only is the stethoscope a symbol of the science of medicine, but it’s a huge part of the art,” said Medical Alumni Association president Sunil Joshi, M.D. ’98. “When we’re listening to [a patient’s] body, we’re also touching them in a way that hopefully makes them feel comfortable with us. The patient-physician relationship is such an important bond.”

Denis Balaban, a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, decided he wanted an electronic stethoscope after listening to a professor speak of its cutting-edge features but thought he would have to wait until he became a doctor to afford one.

So when he and his fellow first-years walked into the auditorium to find 3M Littmann electronic stethoscopes resting on their desks, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Aside from surprise, the instruments (which were supported by the celebrating classes of Alumni Weekend 2012) elicited gratitude in the doctors-in-training.

“It’s incredibly generous for alumni to come back and support their school,” said Kathleen Parker, one of 12 first-years admitted through the Junior Honors Medical Program. “I’m very thankful.”

Although the class of 2017 displays diversity — 62 students were undergraduate Gators, four came from the Rural & Urban Underserved Medicine Program and 22 are over age 25 — these first-years all have something in common: They chose to dedicate their lives to medicine, and they chose to learn and grow at UF.

The 135 UF College of Medicine first-years pose for their class photo in the ARB courtyard. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

The 135 UF College of Medicine first-years pose for their class photo in the ARB courtyard. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

For Pauline Jackson-Thompson, 40, UF may be more than 2,500 miles from her undergraduate alma mater of Walla Walla University in College Place, Wash., but it brings her closer to family.

Because of positive feedback from her niece (who is currently a medical student at UF) and the college’s credentials, Jackson-Thompson felt inspired to join The Gator Nation and the UF College of Medicine.

“It’s the best program in the state of Florida in my opinion,” she said. “It’s hard to compete with UF.”

To view photos from the dean’s reception, click here.