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Medical School graduates set to begin health care journeys

May. 17, 2018, 9:02 AM

School of Medicine graduates Johnny Wei, left, Kaitlyn Weeber and Sir Norman Melancon were all smiles before the main ceremony on Alumni Lawn. (photo by Anne Rayner)

In his message to the class of 2018 at Commencement last Friday, Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, spoke of the increasingly high cost of health care, and the role the new graduates might play in bringing it under control as they venture into their new careers.

School of Medicine graduate Kareem Fakhoury gets a lift from family members following last Friday’s ceremony in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“For many years, the actual cost of health care has risen faster than anything else in the U.S. economy. Since 1980, spending on health care, as a fraction of our gross domestic product, has grown 600 percent.”

Balser said that his wish for the graduates is for them to excel at the next stage of their career, whether it’s residency, more training or an exciting position in health care or research.

“You are all extraordinary academically, and so many of you are as committed to humanity as you are to your chosen discipline,” Balser said. “If we want to move the needle, if we want to fundamentally change the game as we impact the lives of patients, we must get into the dark, neglected corners of our health care system. We need you to push and prod and exert time and energy in those nooks and crannies where the health care professions have so far neglected to go.”

VUSM Founder’s Medalist Whitney Elizabeth Muhlestein poses for a photo with Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, at last Friday’s main ceremony. (photo by John Russell)

Whitney Elizabeth Muhlestein, from South Pasadena, California, is Founder’s Medalist for the School of Medicine. Mentored by assistant professor of Neurological Surgery Lola Chambless, MD, Muhlestein has chosen a career in surgery. She co-directed the student-run Shade Tree Clinic and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha and Gold Humanism honor societies.

The breakdown of the 2018 VUSM graduating class by degrees: nine Doctor of Audiology; four Doctor of Medical Physics; 79 Doctor of Medicine, including seven Doctor of Philosophy, five Master of Business Administration and one Master of Education; three Master of Education of the Deaf; 10 Master of Laboratory Investigation; 24 Master of Public Health including one dual degree with Master of Arts; 11 Master of Science in Clinical Investigation; 10 Master of Science in Medical Physics; 20 Master of Science (Speech Language Pathology); and four Master of Science (Applied Clinical Informatics) — a new degree awarded for the first time this year.

Debbie Xie, left, Krishnan Ramanujan and Ashley Wu pose for a photo following the School of Medicine ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“I’ve absolutely loved my time at VUSM. My classmates, our staff and administrators, as well as all of the residents, nurses, staff and faculty over at VUMC came together over the past four years to teach me as much as possible,” said Kaitlyn Weeber, who will be starting her family medicine residency at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base.

“They pushed me to set ever larger goals, gave me the tools to succeed and even took the time to focus on my wellness along the way. Even though I’ll miss Vanderbilt dearly, I couldn’t be more excited,” she said.

To watch a video of this year’s School of Medicine Commencement ceremony go here.

Brionna Brown gets a little help from Bonnie Miller, MD, at the School of Medicine ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

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