Cheers from the crowd rang out — “Love you!” “That’s my big brother!” “That’s my uncle!” — as each newly minted doctor was hooded with medical doctor regalia and received his or her diploma. Before crossing the stage, the 133 UF College of Medicine graduates signed their signature to the Hippocratic Oath, adding the letters M.D. to the end of their names for the first time.
The College of Medicine’s 57th annual commencement ceremony was held Saturday, May 21 in front of a crowd of about 1,500 family, friends, faculty and staff in the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. UF President W. Kent Fuchs and UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D., presided over the ceremony. Good asked the graduates to remember three key tenants throughout their professional careers: maximize your individual potential; maintain balance and do not let your career get ahead of you; and always strive to find joy in what you do.
Good then called for a moment of silence to remember Richard C. Christensen, M.D., who was posthumously awarded the 2016 Hippocratic Award by the graduating class. The beloved faculty member tragically died while on a service trip to Zambia on Thanksgiving Day 2015.
Alumnus Robert L. Phillips Jr., M.D. ’95, MSPH, vice president for research and policy of the American Board of Family Medicine, gave a reflective and sometimes humorous commencement address. Phillips spoke of the role a doctor plays in the community, reminding the new physicians that they are now tasked with being leaders.
“You can be a powerful change aid in your community,” Phillips said. “It’s about sharing the power and not just about stepping in.”
This year the college welcomed 28 honorary marshals, including alumni, several of whom were celebrating 50 or more years since receiving their UF medical degree. Nine physician parents who are also graduates of the college joined their children on the stage to help don the academic hood on their family’s new physician.
Once all graduates received their diplomas, they stood to recite the Hippocratic Oath for the first time as physicians.
And finally, the graduating class saw four military commissions presided over by Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs. Families of two Air Force officers, one Army officer and one Naval officer were invited to the stage for the administration of the Oath of Office and to add a new rank to the officers’ uniforms.
Once the official ceremony ended, graduates and their families filed out into the sunshine to continue the celebration and take commemorative photos by the Phillips Center fountain.
Kirsti Buchholz, M.D. ’16, laughed when she was asked about signing her name with the initials M.D. for the first time: “It was pretty surreal,” she said.