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School of Medicine graduates embrace future challenges

May. 14, 2015, 10:26 AM

Members of the School of Medicine class of 2015 gather following last Friday’s Commencement ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Bonnie Miller, M.D., senior associate dean for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, offered some sound advice to the class of 2015 during last week’s commencement ceremony.

“You will need to cultivate mental flexibility, and analyze problems from many angles and make decisions from perspectives other than your own,” Miller told the graduates.

Laurence James and Amy Fleming, M.D., laugh while James receives his academic hood during the School of Medicine ceremony in Langford auditorium last Friday. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“Admit when you are wrong. Be pragmatic. Resist dogma and ban rigid ideology. Embrace creativity and be willing to adapt.

“Ongoing, relentless change will shape your careers, and that’s a good thing because you must always strive to be better,” she said. “We all must continually grow and innovate so that the best well-care and sick-care is understood and accessible and affordable to everyone.”

Shyam Jayant Deshpande was this year’s School of Medicine Founder’s Medalist. (photo by Joe Howell)

For Tyler Davis the message was one that he feels was at the center of his four years as a medical student.

Davis, who will begin his residency in Emergency Medicine at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, knows he is prepared for his next phase of life thanks to Vanderbilt.

“I really have to credit Vanderbilt with my work hard mentality,” he said. “All of us students are in the same boat. We have such a sense of community. And our faculty really pushes us to work hard, but it is all with the intention of striving for excellence.

“While I am really looking forward to taking ownership of the patient and their care, it’s the thing that scares me the most.”

Benjamin McCormick gets a lift from fellow School of Medicine graduate Dave Amsalem as they arrive in style for Commencement. (photo by Joe Howell)

Davis said the patient-physician relationship is one of the qualities that attracted him to medicine.

While an undergraduate at Notre Dame, he was unsure about what career path to take and spent a summer shadowing a local surgeon, which sealed his fate.

“After seeing him at work in his clinic, interacting with patients, the procedures … the relationship he had with his patients was incredible. I knew it was what I wanted to do,” Davis said.
After eight years at Vanderbilt, Caroline Lai graduated from the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) with an M.D/Ph.D.

“I have been waiting so long for this day,” Lai said. “When I really look at it, I’ve been a student for 25 years.

Vanessa Buie gathers with the rest of her classmates outside Langford Auditorium before the School of Medicine ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“Graduation is truly the culmination of all of my education. I know I am well prepared and ready to apply all I’ve learned. I have been waiting to move on to the next phase, which is really another level of learning.”

Lai came to Vanderbilt in 2007, completed two years of the medical school curriculum and from 2009-2013 she earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology and finished her medical courses in 2015.

She will remain at Vanderbilt to begin her residency in Urology.

The arduous course of study, she feels, will allow her to make an impact on the day-to-day lives of patients as well as impact the future of medicine through research.

From left, Cristina Farkas, Gretchen Edwards and Jana Bregman celebrate after the School of Medicine ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, congratulated the 210 members of the graduating class.

“May your leadership in caring for patients — in education and in research — be transformative, bringing renewed hope, satisfaction and opportunity to your patients, your friends and your colleagues,” Balser said.

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