Elation, exuberance, and just plain good spirits percolated through Patrick Adams Hall on Monday, August 20, as St. George’s University welcomed over 650 students at its bi-annual School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.
Dr. Elizabeth Louie, MD, SGU ’90 master of ceremonies, warmly welcomed the packed hall of excited students and referenced her experience entering medical school. Dr. Louie, now the medical director at the Center for Precious Minds in Boca Raton, Florida, said that she was just as excited and nervous many years ago when she was starting out in medical school. “At the end of the day, I sincerely wish that you love the practice of medicine as much as I do.”
University Chancellor, Dr. Charles. R. Modica, highlighted the educational experience students get at SGU and the integral role it plays in shaping the success stories of our graduates – past and present.
“You will never have the opportunity to interact with so many persons from different cultures and creeds as you will right here in Grenada,” Dr. Modica said. “The students before you have made this University something we are all proud of. As humble as our beginnings were, my pride in this University is overwhelming – because of the graduates; because of what you will do as students.”
Keynote speaker for the fall 2012 ceremony was Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD, MPH, professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Upon taking the podium, Dr. DeAngelis, a dynamic, spirited , and gifted speaker, exclaimed: “There are more medical students than I have ever seen in one place! This is wonderful!” Dr. DeAngelis said that a vocation is a blessed thing; she emphasized the extremely profound trust that is given to you as a doctor and the importance of love – and of listening to patients amidst the prestige that comes with being a doctor.
“You are a steward of a powerful profession, and part of that profession is to treat your colleagues with respect and always protect your patients,” Dr. DeAngelis said. “Your colleagues are not limited to your classmates, but the nurses, assistants, maintenance personnel, and the people who nurture your daily lives.”
Dr. DeAngelis leavened the evening with a series of well-timed, thought provoking, and funny jokes. Her joy in her life and her profession was evident in her every word and gesture; an inspiration to all in the audience. She challenged the entering class to envision their career as a caring professional. Passionate care, the dissemination of hope, and respect for the patient are at the core of the profession. She exhorted the students, “Think of the privileges we have. In some cases, your face will be the last face a patient sees before leaving this earth.“
“You can’t always cure, but you can always care, and that’s what’s important – you do your best and care always,” she remarked. “It’s not enough to be smart; you can be the smartest, most intellectually gifted physician in the world, but if you don’t care about your patients, it means nothing.
You have a social responsibility and that is to give your patients hope – not a false hope but the hope that you’ll try your best to protect them from pain, and to make sure they’re not alone. Sometimes that’s the best we can do.”
Dr. DeAngelis left the audience in no doubt about how she feels about the unique role the physician has in society, “Do not ever let anyone call you a provider; you are a physician!”
Each student was robed and took the Oath of Professional Commitment. This donning of the White Coat along with the recitation of the Oath inducted the students into the profession of medicine – with a commitment to upholding the ideals and duties of the medical profession.
About Dr. DeAngelis
Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis is a former council member and current member of the National Academy of Science (NAS), Institute of Medicine (IOM); a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Physicians and serves on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Board of Physicians for Human Rights.
Additionally, Dr. DeAngelis has served as an officer of numerous national academic societies including past chairman of the American Board of Pediatrics and Chair of the Pediatric Accreditation Council for Residency Review Committee of the American Council on Graduate Medical Education.
Currently, Dr. DeAngelis is a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also an editor-in-chief emerita of JAMA and the Journal of the American Medical Association (2000-2011); editor, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA); and editor-in-chief of scientific publications and multimedia applications for The JAMA Network.
The Keynote speaker received her M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, her M.P.H. from the Harvard Graduate School of Public Health, and her pediatric specialty training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has been awarded seven honorary doctorate degrees, and has received numerous awards for humanitarianism and medical excellence. Dr. DeAngelis has also authored and edited several books on Pediatrics and Medical Education, and has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, chapters, and editorials.