May 23, 2022 — After four years of tireless training — through the rigors of a pandemic, no less — 130 members of the University of Florida College of Medicine class of 2022 took the Hippocratic Oath and walked across the stage of the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday to receive their medical degrees.
“For the first time, you will be able to write the initials M.D. after your name,” said Joseph Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs, before the newly minted physicians headed to the stage to be hooded by Donna Parker, M.D., associate dean for diversity and health equity, and Shelley Collins, M.D., associate dean for student affairs.
Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., congratulated the students on their accomplishments.
“Your capacity to innovate may be one of the greatest strengths of this generation,” she said. “You’re digital natives, fluent in multiple modalities with access to vast sources of data, and you stand at the threshold of a new age of medical discovery … As you look forward to what is next for you, I encourage you to take the values of the UF College Medicine with you. And whether you’re staying here for training or moving on to explore all that the world has to offer, remember that you represent the very best of what it means to be a Gator M.D.”
Class president James Davis, M.D., shared with his classmates and loved ones in attendance advice from four mentors he looks up to, including his father, John Davis, M.D., a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology.
“If there’s one thing that sets the University of Florida College of Medicine degree apart from those from other programs across the country, it’s the commitment to humanism and the art of medicine that permeates our education,” Davis said. “From Dr. Lynch’s welcome on our interview day to the last lecture, this commitment is ever present. We must always remember that it is a privilege to wear our white coats and it’s our duty to stand up for and accompany our patients to whom we have sworn to do no harm.”
Davis also shared a few words of remembrance for Curtis Crowther, a medical student in the class of 2022 who tragically passed away in 2019. Crowther’s parents attended the ceremony and received a gift from the college in their son’s honor.
During his keynote speech, Gurpreet Dhaliwal, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, implored the early-career physicians to never forget the humanistic side of medicine, including what it feels like to be a patient.
“Every one of our patients’ lives is a story, and we might be one small paragraph or a line in it,” he said. “Remember the importance of the story and what an honor it is to be part of someone else’s story. Even if one of you goes out into the world to write your own.”
Following the ceremony, Erica Braschi, M.D., said the experience of graduating medical school felt surreal.
“This is something a lot of us have been dreaming about since we were children,” she said. “Getting to celebrate with my classmates is very special. I felt emotional being on the stage and looking out at all the mentors and loved ones in the audience. I think it’s going to take some getting used to before it really hits me that I’m a doctor.”