School of Medicine graduates urged to apply humanistic lens to all they do

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embers of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine’s Class of 2020 were urged to never lose the force that has driven them to become physicians as they participated in a virtual Commencement ceremony on May 8.

A total of 82 doctor of medicine degrees were conferred, as well as five anesthesiologist assistant degrees.

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Commencement speaker Dr. William A. McDade, PhD, implored the new medical professionals to maintain the sense of wonder that drove many of them in their love of the sciences.

“Apply a humanistic lens to all that you do that is appreciative of difference and embraces inclusivity. Ask deep, reflective questions of yourself about the things you accept daily as true. Find out, ‘Why?’ ”

McDade, the chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, told the graduates that he suspects many of them will contribute meaningfully to the discovery of solutions to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Inclusive excellence

Dr. William A. McDade, PhD, the chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, delivered the keynote address.

“In all the work you do, please do your best to understand those who are different from yourself, to break down the empathy gap and to always strive to do your very best for all patients,” he said.

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Man in graduation robes reads from a paper in front of a screen with the words of the Hippocratic Oath

The honor to serve

"Commencement is the beginning of our lives of service in medicine. I'm thrilled to be returning home to the capital region of New York. Everything I've learned at Netter will help me to serve my community at a time of heightened need. I'm so grateful to all the wonderful staff and faculty at Netter who have pushed us and supported us to reach this goal. This is me reading the Hippocratic Oath with the rest of our class! I barely held it together. What an honor," said Terence Meehan, MD '20, PhD.

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Quinnipiac President Judy D. Olian praised the graduates for stepping up when their communities needed them the most.

“As our state and nation grappled with the rapid surge and spread of COVID-19, your medical instinct kicked in, and you stepped forward to help,” she said. "You connected with vulnerable seniors feeling isolated and staffed a crisis text line for any individual in need; you created masks for health care workers and gathered and donated other forms of PPE; you delivered groceries to families in need and fanned out to food banks and soup kitchens around Connecticut. And, somehow, with all this support you gave to our communities, you still found time to manage a challenging course load and produce scholarly work.”

Olian encouraged the graduates to help others as they were helped to reach this point in their lives and careers.

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Lasting connections

“I appreciate that the world is so connected with technology; I have family across the U.S. and in India who can join in and celebrate the closing of this chapter of my education," said Britton Gibson, MD '20. "As my classmates and I head into our respective fields and begin our careers as physicians, we still have that same technology to connect us, allowing us to support each other and reminisce on our days as medical students from wherever life has taken us.” Gibson is pictured watching the virtual ceremony with her daughter, Cora.

“You are living role models of our Quinnipiac values and what it means to be a Bobcat,” she said. "You have already made your mark, and we can’t wait to see how you continue to change the world. And, right now, the world needs more kind, compassionate, noble people like you.”

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Three people in commencement robes smile and hold up a stethoscope.

Reason to celebrate

Ziga Vodusek, MD '20, Wes Dean, MD '20, and Jonathan Ho, MD '20, celebrate their graduation.

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A student in commencement robes holds flowers and smiles in front of a tv screen

Forever family

"I was so lucky to have people here — both faculty and classmates — who believed in me when I didn't always believe in myself. It is a true honor to graduate from the Frank. H Netter MD School of Medicine and I will never forget that I am on the shoulders of giants," said Sam Baskharoun, MD '20.

Dr. Bruce Koeppen, founding dean of the School of Medicine, told the graduates that each of them had a lot to be proud of — and have already overcome adversity.

“I am quite certain that when you were welcomed into the Netter family, and received your white coat and stethoscope, this is not what you expected your Commencement ceremony would be like,” he said. "You celebrated your capstone projects and Match Day results remotely and, today, you graduate remotely."

The dean described his graduates’ resiliency as amazing to the more than 550 people attending the ceremony.

“As you leave Netter, I know many of you will now move to the front lines in this fight,” he said. “It is normal to feel anxious now and in the coming weeks as you start your residency, but please know that you are ready for what lies ahead. You have already shown the faculty that you have the knowledge, skills and compassion to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Be confident, be eager and be strong.”

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A woman hands a paper to a student in a commencement robe.

Celebrating a moment

"I always wondered before medical school how accurate some of those medical shows were. Not just about the medicine, but about the people, too — the JDs and Turks and Elliots. About how people who are so different on paper can become so close. Well, they’re either really accurate or I got really lucky with the people I got to learn alongside with the last four years. Somehow I wound up with 80-plus people who are kind, and funny, and generous and most importantly, unapologetically human. I’m so proud to graduate alongside them today," said Melissa Templeton, MD '20. Here, her younger sister, Rachel, celebrates with her the moment Templeton's name was announced during the virtual ceremony.

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Screen capture of a woman in commencement robes speaking.

Words of wisdom

Dr. Traci Marquis-Eydman, associate professor of medical sciences, addressed the graduates during the virtual Commencement ceremony.

Quinnipiac remains committed to celebrating law, graduate and undergraduate Commencement with in-person ceremonies when it is safe to do so. New dates will be shared once they are established.

Dr. Traci Marquis-Eydman, associate professor of medical sciences, medical student home program director and longitudinal integrated clerkship director, urged the graduates to never forget that they must also treat themselves with compassion — which includes nurturing relationships.

"Allow room in your life for connections to others — whether they be family, friends, colleagues, patients, neighbors or even strangers," she said. "Nurture these connections for they will sustain you; they will add to your sense of purpose and your sense of fulfilment. And they will ultimately be your emotional PPE when you need it the most."

She encouraged the graduates to always choose hope — as the hopeful person will always try.

"Keep your heads up, your heart full and your eyes wide open — eyes always wide open. For every moment doing what you love is a moment well spent," she said.

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