August 27, 1999

Class of ’03 begins educational journey

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Dr. Bonnie Miller (left) looked on last week as Dean John Chapman gave a helping hand to incoming medical student Joann Goring at the traditional white coat ceremony.
(photo by Anne Rayner)

Class of '03 begins educational journey

Medical school probably won't be much of an adjustment for Lin Jin, one of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's newest students.

Jin, a member of the 104 members of the Class of 2003, is also the youngest.

The average age of the medical students is 21. Jin is 19.

The Valinda, Calif. resident enrolled in California State University, Los Angeles when she was 14, after her freshman year in high school. She was recruited from her local school district and passed an early entrance test with flying colors. When most students are beginning college at 18, she was finishing.

Jin believes adjusting to the life of a medical student won't be any more difficult than adjusting to college life at 14.

"There are people of all different backgrounds here. It's a very diverse medical school class. I should fit in just fine."

Jin is one of 44 women and 60 men making up the first-year class.

Twenty-nine states are represented. Seventeen of the new students are from California and 10 are from Tennessee. Eight students are from other countries, including China, South Korea, Canada, the Republic of China, Italy and Romania. Nine of the students are M.D./Ph.D. students.

Fifty-two colleges and universities are represented by the incoming students, with Vanderbilt University leading the way with 17 graduates, followed by Dartmouth College and Duke University with five each.

Jerry Crook of Chattanooga, Tenn. has already had first-hand experience with a Vanderbilt graduate degree. Crook, 28, graduated from Vanderbilt Law School three years ago and has practiced law full-time since then.

"I enjoyed my law education, but unfortunately never really looked at whether I wanted to be a lawyer. I represented some hospitals and found out I was more interested in what the doctors were doing than in what I was doing. I realized that practicing medicine would be more rewarding to me and would fit better with my personality than practicing law. I decided it was better to start over than to wish for the rest of my that I had."

Crook said he's gotten lots of questions from his classmates about his decision to change careers.

"A lot of people in my class knew long ago they wanted to be a practicing physician. It's what I should have done all along too. I just figured it out later than most of my classmates."

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice-chancellor for Health Affairs, welcomed the students at last week's orientation and white coat ceremony.

He told the group that their average MCAT score (11.2) placed the medical school in the top five in the country for entrance exam scores and that for the past three years, the graduates of VUSM have ranked the school number one in student satisfaction.

"There were 50 applicants for every position in this class. You will not be able to find a finer caliber of student anywhere in this country," he said. "A decade from now we'd like the degree you hold from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine be from one of the top 10 medical schools. You're beginning your time here at a very wonderful time, a time of vigorous growth here at the medical center."

Dr. John E. Chapman, Dean of the School of Medicine, was introduced by Jacobson to the students as the "heart and soul of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine." The Class of 2003 was the 32nd class the Dean has admitted at Vanderbilt.

"We take great pride in the diversity, quality and motivation of our medical students. You'll do just fine. We've done this before," Chapman told the group.

Assisted by Dr. Bonnie M. Miller, associate dean for medical students and Dr. John N. Lukens, chairman of admissions committee, Chapman fitted each medical student with a white coat.

"The symbolism is not lost. You were addressed one at a time, individually, just like you will be during your entire education here," he said.

Dr. Deborah C. German, senior associate dean of medical education, delivered her annual "The Good Doctor" presentation in which the medical students were asked to imagine that a close friend or family member was sick and to name qualities they would seek in a physician.

Their answers included humble, relentless, and a graduate of VUSM.