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Laura Davis delivers White Coat address

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August 2017

Eight years after she received her honorary white coat as a first-year student, College of Medicine alumna Laura Davis was the featured speaker Aug. 11 for the Class of 2021’s White Coat Ceremony.

“Medicine is not easy and not always fun,” Davis (M.D., ’13) told the first-year students at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. “There are honestly still some days when I wonder what in the world I’m doing, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. You have made the decision to allow the Florida State University College of Medicine to be a part of your story – and in doing that, you’re now part of this family that I promise will always be supporting you and always cheering you on.”

Davis graduated from the College of Medicine with numerous honors. She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, she was named the Outstanding Graduate in Family Medicine and she received the Mission Award. The work she’s doing now fits the medical school’s mission to a T: She’s practicing family medicine in her hometown, the small rural Big Bend community of Blountstown. In fact, she replaced the physician who had delivered her as a baby.

Earlier this summer, she welcomed first-year students who were touring medical facilities in rural North Florida.

In her White Coat speech, Davis urged the young students to remember: “You won’t just be treating a guy with high blood pressure or a woman with acid reflux. You will be treating men and women and children with lives and families and hobbies and goals of their own who just happen to have diseases.... They are people defined not by the disease but by their own stories. I challenge you to get to know those stories. Ask questions. Smile. Give hugs. And invest in your patients because that truly makes all the difference.”

To watch the White Coat Ceremony, visit http://lectures.med.fsu.edu/tcs/?id=2CD48A32-80B0-4900-BF50-358AD9B12BC5. For best results, use Windows Explorer. Laura Davis’ speech begins at 00:34:08.


LAURA DAVIS’ WHITE COAT ADDRESS
Think back to when you decided to apply to medical school. Some of you have been planning this ever since you were a toddler. Others, like me, went on different paths before coming back to medicine after an extended break or an alternate career. Maybe you had a teacher, a parent, a coach or a friend who encouraged you, mentored you and became your fiercest supporter through the process. For decades, you have gone to school and worked hard to make the best grades and score high on your MCAT and volunteer at a variety of locations and write the best application essays with the goal of getting into medical school. Guess what? You’re here.

And with that, your focus has changed. Sure, you are still going to study hard and stay up late and drink lots of coffee, but your performance in medical school is no longer about yourself. Your performance is now about the patients you will one day get the opportunity to walk with in their medical care. When you decide to study the physiology of the heart one more time, you’re making an investment in your future patient with cardiac disease who is requiring a change of medications. When you decide to go back to the ICU and check on the family of a critical care patient, you’re making an investment in your future patient with whom you will need to discuss end-of-life options.

Even though your medical education will slowly shift from book work to clinical work, one underlying theme remains. Patients are people. The woman who has just been diagnosed with uterine cancer and is having radical surgery in two days – is a mom, and a grandmother, and a volunteer at her local library, and her favorite food is chocolate ice cream. That man who just had a massive heart attack and is in a medically induced coma with a breathing tube – is a son and a brother and a baseball coach to 10 little boys and never misses an FSU home game. (Go Noles!)

The 7-year-old child that you’ve just started on an insulin drip for his new-onset diabetes – loves PE at school, thinks his sister is annoying, hates math and wants to grow up to be a doctor just like you.

This white coat you’re about to receive allows you to ask questions that others can’t ask and know information that others will never know. But never, ever forget: You won’t just be treating a guy with high blood pressure or a woman with acid reflux. You will be treating men and women and children with lives and families and hobbies and goals of their own who just happen to have diseases – some life-changing, others not so much. They are people defined not by the disease but by their own stories. I challenge you to get to know those stories. Ask questions. Smile. Give hugs. And invest in your patients because that truly makes all the difference.

The alternate side of remembering to be compassionate and kind to your patients is to remember to be compassionate and kind to yourself. Take time off to recharge. Go for a walk. Go to dinner with friends. Get plenty of sleep. Remember to call your mom on her birthday – or better yet, plan a surprise visit home. These small things will help prevent your own burnout and help you to be more satisfied with your calling. Work-life balance is essential, and so many of the same recommendations you will make to your patients are the ones you need to hear yourself.

Life gets better – I promise. For many years I feared doorbells, like the one that plays when you enter exam rooms in the CLC, but I am no longer afraid when the UPS driver comes to my home.

I am excited for you as you start your journey into medicine. I’m sure you’ve been told many times, but these next four years will fly by. Make the most of this time not only for your medical education but also for your personal growth. Join clubs. Go on overseas medical experiences. Volunteer at community events. Make lasting friendships.

In four very short years, you will look back at all the late nights, scribbled notes, diagrams on white boards, shelf exams, Step exams, interviews and Match Day celebrations and wonder where the time has gone. You will quite literally wake up one day as a student and the next as a doctor.

Know this: Medicine is not easy and not always fun. There are honestly still some days when I wonder what in the world I’m doing, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. You have made the decision to allow the Florida State University College of Medicine to be a part of your story – and in doing that, you’re now part of this family that I promise will always be supporting you and always cheering you on.

Embrace the journey, and I can assure you that you will be not only an exemplary physician because of it, but an exemplary human being as well.