‘An important four years of growth’
The 137 members of the UF College of Medicine class of 2023 begin their training
Aug. 2, 2019 — On any long journey, the point at which you begin is just as important and memorable as the final destination. The 137 members of the UF College of Medicine class of 2023 embarked Wednesday on a journey that will bring them closer to achieving their dreams of becoming physicians.
UF College of Medicine interim dean Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D., welcomed the first-year medical students in the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building, providing them with insights into the road ahead.
“There are days you’ll be exhilarated; there are days you’ll cry from what you’ve experienced,” Tyndall said. “These are an important four years of growth.”
Jay Lynch, M.D., Office of Admissions assistant dean and professor of medicine, explained the UF College of Medicine’s educational culture, which values humanism and integrity.
“We take care of one another so we can learn, discover and take care of our patients,” Lynch said.
Donna Parker, M.D. ’90, associate dean for diversity and health equity, shared with the class — of which 35% are underrepresented minorities or disadvantaged students — the college’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in both educational and clinical settings.
“Diversity and inclusion are tools to achieve health equity,” Parker said. “At the UF College of Medicine, we are training you to become physicians who are competent in treating patients from all walks of life.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the students unwrapped gifts from the UF medical alumni: their first stethoscopes. Mark Michels, M.D. ’85, president of the Medical Alumni Board of Directors, explained the significance of this moment.
“The stethoscope is an enduring symbol of our profession that reminds both people on either side of the device of the sacred bond they share,” Michels said.
UF’s newest medical students join this year’s 60 incoming physician assistant students who started their first day June 25. The School of Physician Assistant Studies also presented stethoscopes to the first-year class during orientation, which were purchased through alumni support.
Class of 2023 by the numbers
- 75 women and 62 men
- 4 M.D.-Ph.D. students
- Hailing from 47 undergraduate institutions
- 51 students from out of state
Meet a few faces of the class of 2023
Sanaz Dovell, Ph.D.
Sanaz Dovell, Ph.D., is on the road to fulfilling her lifelong goal of becoming a physician, a goal that was pushed to the sidelines as she followed other personal and professional pursuits. Now, she believes, is the time to realize her medical mission. A former associate professor of chemistry at Palm Beach Atlantic University and the recipient of a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Florida Atlantic University, Dovell looks forward to studying the intersection of biochemistry and medicine within the human body. The Persian-American mother of three is convinced the UF College of Medicine is the perfect place for her to achieve her dreams and looks forward to joining community health-centered programs like the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic and international service learning trips.
“There’s something so special at the UF College of Medicine that I didn’t see anywhere else. There’s a sense of community and involvement. The questions on the secondary application and the way interview day was handled made it clear that the college wants to train and graduate doctors who care about people, who are compassionate and humble and interested in making a difference. That’s important to me,” Dovell says.
Peace Ekakitie, a recipient of the Denny Cook Memorial Scholarship who loves to cook traditional Nigerian meals daily, says her goal for the next four years is two-fold.
“I want to learn as much as I can, and while doing so, also impact the lives of others. Students can get caught up in the bubble of studying. I don’t want to forget what’s going on outside of my classes,” she says.
Ekakitie feels passionate about treating the medically underserved and aims to continue volunteering throughout her medical training at Gainesville’s Westside Samaritans Clinic, which provides primary care and treatment for chronic diseases like diabetes to those without medical insurance. Ekakitie, who lived in rural Nigeria until she was 16, says she has a deep understanding of what the clinic’s patients go through to obtain health care.
“I know exactly what it’s like to not have access to health care or to insurance,” Ekakitie says. “Even though my parents were college graduates, they couldn’t afford everything for us. Health care is very expensive.”
There was a time in Tiag Bhamber’s life when he believed he would have to choose between his two great passions: health and storytelling. What he’s learned is that the two fields intersect in powerful ways. Bhamber is currently working on a short film and a novel that explore themes like the impact of mental and physical health on a life. Bhamber’s creative pursuits have increased his interest in psychiatry, a field that restores quality of life by engaging in active listening. It’s a skill Bhamber currently employs in his creative process, and he recognizes its value to those on both sides of the patient-physician relationship.
“I’ve learned that when you dedicate the time to sit and listen to a patient’s story, that makes them feel less alone and less scared. Listening is part of the healing process, no matter the ailment,” Bhamber says. “Listening to stories is a great way for a physician to foster a sense of empathy, which is one of the most important qualities a physician can have. If you don’t understand the story your patient is going through, you can’t help them effectively.”