(See list of graduate awards below)
The Florida State University College of Medicine filled Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on May 19 for a commencement ceremony in which it graduated 117 new physicians. The graduating class is the largest in the college’s 11-year history. (Twenty-seven students graduated with the first class in 2005.)
Among the new physicians is Dr. David Castillo, former team captain and starting center for the Seminoles under Coach Bobby Bowden.
Dean John P. Fogarty, M.D., thanked the graduating class for its role in helping the College of Medicine successfully complete its application for reaccreditation in 2011. He also praised the class for being the first from FSU to have a 100-percent first-attempt pass rate on the rigorous U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 2, which takes place early in the fourth year of medical school.
Nationally, about 95 percent of medical students who take the exam pass on the first attempt. All of FSU’s medical students passed on the first try in both the clinical skills and clinical knowledge portions of the exam.
“As you start your residency training I want you to remember that you represent a new innovative medical school, a school founded on the principles of patient-focused care and community-based training,” Fogarty told the graduates. “You have thrived in that environment and validated the vision of the founders of this innovative model.”
Charles Ouimet, professor and faculty scholar in neuroscience at the College of Medicine, delivered the commencement speech. (See complete speech below.) Ouimet, whose son was in the medical school’s first graduating class, combined his sense of humor and deep appreciation for the sacrifice needed to complete medical school.
“I’ll never forget the first day [with this class],” Ouimet said. “I wanted to review how the spinal cord is divided up into numbered segments. Instead of saying cervical 8, thoracic 12, lumbar 5, sacral 5 and coccygeal 1 – I abbreviated and said C8, T12, L5, S5, C1 and suddenly David Castillo hiked a football at me. To make matters worse, students from UF and Miami were in the front row and I made only nine yards before they had me down.”
In a concert hall filled with proud family members, Ouimet encouraged parents of the graduates to embrace the accomplishment they were witnessing. He directed most of his praise, however, at the graduates.
“We know that our pride in you is a burden, but you have to understand that while your parents set the bar before you were 10 years old, it was you, driven by an irrepressible sense of decency, who raised it even higher,” Ouimet said. “You have dedicated yourselves to alleviating human suffering, to preserving life, to easing death. You have given up who you were for who you might become.
“So we are proud of you not because you are smart, a likely accident of nature over which we and you had little substantive control, but because you have chosen to embrace the deepest of human values. In confronting the problem of ‘what to do with your lives,’ you chose an elegant solution: one based on a keenly developed moral code and a finely honed sense of humanism.”
Class President Brandon Mauldin noted the shared experiences that link the graduating class, despite the fact that most came from other undergraduate programs around the state.
“Our time here serves as the foundation of our careers and has had a profound influence on who we are as individuals. Let us not forget the path that brought us to medical school and the passion we have for our patients,” Mauldin said. “Let us not forget our mentors and our treasured professors who up until this point have literally taught us everything we know about medicine. Let’s take the knowledge we have gained from FSU and boldly apply it to our future patients. No matter where we go or what specialty we are doing we will be asked: ‘What medical school did you attend?’ And without a doubt we will proudly reply, ‘Florida State University College of Medicine.’” (See complete speech below.)
On the day before graduation, nearly 40 members of the class were honored at an awards program. The list of honorees is below.
CLASS OF 2012 HONOREES
COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AWARDS
HONOR SOCIETY AND SPECIALTY AWARDS
REGIONAL CAMPUS AWARDS
Regional Campus Dean’s Award (for “the most outstanding student at each College of Medicine regional campus”):
MILITARY PINNING CEREMONY
Promotion in rank for students in the armed services:
SUMMARY OF STUDENT HONOREES
By Charlie Ouimet, Ph.D.
Dean Fogarty’s introduction of Dr. Ouimet:
At the College of Medicine, we are blessed not only with great students, but also great faculty. Dr. Charles Ouimet, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and a Faculty Scholar in Neuroscience, has been involved in medical education for more than 30 years. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brown University and completed four years of postdoctoral study in the pharmacology department at Yale University School of Medicine. He started his teaching career at Brown and later joined the faculty at Florida State University, where his ability to connect with students resulted in his winning 21 teaching awards over the years, including a Golden Apple Award from the American Medical Student Association and FSU’s top honor: the University Distinguished Teaching Award. As a faculty member in the FSU Program in Medical Sciences – the precursor to this medical school – he received the Richard C. Winzler Excellence in Teaching Award nine times. In 2001, they finally gave up and just added his name to the award so that Charlie could have the pleasure of presenting it to a colleague instead of trotting out the same old acceptance speech every year. That’s a joke, of course. Charlie never gives the same speech twice. In 2001, Charlie became the third faculty member hired by the new FSU College of Medicine. He says that he wishes he had been seventh so that he could refer to himself as 007.
Parents, spouses, children, friends, faculty and Class of 2012: I wanted this talk to have an erudite-sounding title in Latin and I came up with “Tua ludens parva non servire mundi.” Unfortunately, I was so bad with Latin that they failed me twice, even though I took it only once. So the Latin translates either as “Your playing small does not serve the world” or “I’d like two pizzas to go, one with pepperoni.”
I thank the Class of 2012 for allowing me to speak today. The Teacher’s Dream is that his students will eclipse him, so I am grateful to our graduates for making that particular dream come true for me. And I thank my wife for making all the other dreams come true.
The Class of 2012 was very … different from others with which I had worked. I’ll never forget the first day. I wanted to review how the spinal cord is divided up into numbered segments. Instead of saying cervical 8, thoracic 12, lumbar 5, sacral 5 and coccygeal 1, … I abbreviated and said C8, T12, L5, S5, C1, and suddenly David Castillo hiked a football at me. To make matters worse, students from UF and Miami were in the front row, and I made only nine yards before they had me down. [By the way, I just snuck in a final neuroanatomy review.]
Yes, this class loved to give me a hard time. I remember weeks of heated debate outside of the classroom to determine whether free will was only an illusion created by the cerebral cortex. Do we have free will? Speaking for the class, Casey Cosgrove concluded that we absolutely maybe had free will unless, of course, we do not.
I am colorblind, and I remember showing a diagram that was entirely in black and white and they would ask me, “What’s that red thing the green arrow is pointing to?” I told them how important sleep was for the formation of memory, so they slept during class. Then they tried to fool me into thinking that “Paakinson’s disease” was actually pronounced “Parkinson’s disease.” They didn’t get too far with that one.
Yes, you were a difficult class, but you were dedicated. While others partied, you studied pathology. While others ate, you studied pathology. When others socialized, went to the beach, watched movies, exercised, bathed or slept, you … well, you were still studying pathology. During the commercial breaks at the last football game of the season, you did all of your studying for everything else. Except for Doctoring, which you studied during a single trip from the parking lot to the classroom...and you were on the phone, drinking coffee, eating a bagel and jogging at the time.
Then you tackled Years 3 and 4, where you spent most of your time working with patients. One of your colleagues, Shahab Virani, made the cogent observation that when you began to deal with actual patients instead of textbooks, you realized that you were not studying for grades. Instead, you were studying for the sake of your patients. When you hear your medical students make observations like that, it makes you proud.
In fact, we are all proud of the Class of 2012, and I would like to explore that emotion a little bit and take a moment to address the first and the most important teachers that you had. So would the parents please stand and …
Using the word “son” or “daughter” as appropriate, repeat after me the following four-word phrase: “My (son, daughter) the doctor.”
OK, you may sit down now. [I see that many of you have been practicing already!] Felt good to speak those words, didn’t it? Work that phrase into any and all conversations: If someone asks you about the weather, you can say, “My daughter the doctor gets wet when it rains.” What is your favorite restaurant? “My son the doctor eats food.” Or you can just go up to complete strangers and simply say, “My daughter the doctor.” People will understand.
Your sons and daughters the doctors will practice anesthesiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, neurology, child neurology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, pathology, radiology, surgery and urology. [That last one must be a typo – they left off the N at the beginning of “urology” – otherwise you’d be working at the wrong end of the patient.] [Right, Mark?]
These new doctors are fanning out across the entire country, and we are delighted to finally see them go … to start their careers. They have chosen an extremely challenging profession, and there will be times when their stress is so high and their fatigue is so deep that you as sympathetic parents will wish they could come home to you for solace and comfort. But the poets say they can never go home again. Mainly, I suppose, because their bedrooms have been converted into offices or sewing rooms.
But that sense of home will always be carried in their hearts: that uniquely safe place where you can lower your guard, where perfection is unnecessary and where love is unconditional. That place where the seeds of humanism were sown, where a strong work ethic was developed, where compassion was nurtured, and where a love of mankind grew large. This grounding in core values is your graduation gift to your sons and daughters, and it is a big one.
Some of our graduates have lost parents, and I know that singular ache can color celebratory days like today. But you will find that these parents have become a living part of you, and in today’s introspective moments that steal into the spaces between all the handshakes and congratulations, you will see them smile. You have honored them today.
Class of 2012, ask yourselves why we are so deeply proud of you. Is it really because of your intellectual prowess? I will allow that your intellect carried you down the long and torturous road of a medical education, but the road ITSELF was chosen by your hearts. So we are proud of you NOT because you are smart, a likely accident of nature over which we and you had little substantive control, but because you have chosen to embrace the deepest of human values. In confronting the problem of “what to do with your lives,” you chose an elegant solution, one based on a keenly developed moral code and a finely honed sense of humanism.
We know that our pride in you is a burden, but you have to understand that while your parents set the bar before you were 10 years old, it was you, driven by an irrepressible sense of decency, who raised it even higher. You have dedicated yourselves to alleviating human suffering, to preserving life, to easing death. You have given up who you were for who you might become.
You have survived four long years during which the faculty learned how good your hearts are, and how bad your memory is.
As you prepare to leave us now, there is really nothing left to say. But that never stopped me before, so here are a dozen ideas to consider:
• Know that the reassuring touch of the hand can be as important as the skilled manipulation of the scalpel.
• Take time to enjoy your family; we live in a society that defines success as something you strive for at work. Success should make you feel happy and content rather than acquisitive and ambitious. And so I would argue that success is something you strive for at home, with your relationships with family and friends. Without that kind of success, the advancement of your career will ring hollow.
• Speaking of family, visit your parents often, preferably when they have company so they can introduce you as “My son-or-daughter the doctor.”
• Measure your worth by the way you treat the least in our society.
• Treasure your classmates. Go out of your way to call and visit each other. In 30 years, you’ll find that those sitting next to you have become even more precious than they are now.
• Lead. But you don’t have to change the whole world, just your one little piece of it.
• Listen. Listen to your patients. Listen to the music in your spouse’s heart. Listen to the laughter of your children. Most important, listen to your own heart. You can’t be happy if your limbic system is grumpy.
• Don’t confuse drama with medicine. Small, private acts of kindness, discreetly given in the intimate sanctity of the examination room, can be more profound than that which makes good TV. Which brings me to my next point: Don’t work at Seattle Grace Hospital unless McDreamy and McSteamy have been fired. And if Izzy is still there, hide the scissors and don’t let her get near Denny’s LVAD line.
• Satisfy your need for spirituality by developing avocations that carry a sense of the profound into your life. Like playing golf or watching MTV.
• Learn to forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself when things don’t go well. Forgive death its persistence. Forgive death its permanence.
• Do not forget the person you were four years ago; you may think that you were naïve back then or that you didn’t really know what medicine was all about. But I thought you were pretty cool way back in 2008. A light danced in your eyes. That light can be dimmed by bitterness, ingratitude, fatigue, bureaucracy, cynicism and time itself. If that light goes out, you may still be licensed to practice medicine. But will you remain a genuine doctor?
• One example, drawn from all the examples on this stage, of someone who has kept the light shining is our own Dr. Maitland. In spite of the fact that he has been practicing medicine for more than 65 years… oops, that was a typo – it should read “more than 95 years”… he loves what he is doing. He is full of compassion for his patients. But the really impressive thing is how much his patients love him. You have met many doctors like this on our faculty. This is the kind of person with whom you want to partner in your own medical practice. Actively seek them out; they are not all that hard to find in your profession. They have around them a contagious sense of joy, and they will enrich your lives.
• Finally, and most important, never never never watch “House M.D.”
I spent some time going through the literature, casting about for something inspiring to share with you now at the end of this talk, at the beginning of your journey; a story that would articulate and
perhaps sum up what is so special about the Class of 2012. And I found exactly what I was looking for in an essay written by one of your classmates. I won’t embarrass her by telling you who she is, so let’s just call her Natasha Demehri.
Natasha wrote a story that exemplifies the spirit of this entire class. She describes a difficult experience she had when on rotation at one of Florida’s hospitals. A good friend had fallen into a coma and was admitted to intensive care. When Natasha hurried to his room, she became aware that the patient’s family no longer regarded her only as a friend; she was now more than that – she was wearing a white coat, a symbol of her emerging role as a healer, and she could feel the family reacting to that.
She recognized that her friend was in critical condition, but since she was wearing the white coat she had to maintain a professional demeanor, a respect for boundaries. Later that week, when she knew her friend’s death was imminent, she hung her white coat on the door before entering his room, so she could mourn her loss simply as a caring human being.
A little later, a sage neurologist handed the white coat back to her and advised: “This coat will forever define your profession, but your heart will forever define your person. Keep your heart in your white coat, always.” Writing, I am sure, for all of her colleagues in the Class of 2012, she concluded: “As doctors, we must face the worst in the world, with the best in our hearts.” As she left that hospital room, she put her white coat back on, shielding a vulnerable heart and at the same time offering it to all the patients who will populate her future.
At some point in the last four years, all of you have made this same offering. You came to understand that once you put on that white coat, you would forever forfeit the right to be ordinary. And one by one, you did it anyway.
I would like to conclude by asking you to consider these words variously attributed to Marianne Williamson and Nelson Mandela: “Our worst fear is NOT that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be those things? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”
THE CLASS PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS
By Brandon Mauldin, M.D.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us in celebration of our medical school graduation. Welcome to the commencement ceremony of the FSU College of Medicine Class of 2012! We are all very proud to be joined by our friends, families, valued professors and beloved school leadership.
Class of 2012, nice to see you, DOCTORS! I don’t know about all of you, but I’m excited to now have 116 new doctors as friends. Our combined forces ensure that advice on any subject matter is only a phone call away … which I am confident (and Nancy Clark will hopefully concur) will be more accurate than, say, Wikipedia?
Class of 2012, congratulations!!! We have finally reached the day we have only allowed ourselves to briefly think about over the last four years. My friends, think back to when times were tough, and it was 2 a.m., when we were struggling to keep our heads from hitting the desk. We knew this day would eventually come … but we would never allow ourselves the full measure of spending more than several seconds to daydream of the possibilities. Well, today let us soak up as much of this experience as we can and reflect on our journey over the last four years.
“Nostalgia” comes from the Greek nostos, meaning homecoming, and algos, meaning pain or ache. This is a tricky idea to grasp because, as we all know, it is a feeling that is easier to experience than describe. It is a feeling that is created out of bittersweet memories that we know we will never experience again, yet we see the reminders that they once existed.
Class of 2012, I am honored to be your guide down nostalgia lane. First we will look at the path that brought us to medical school, then reflect on our time together at the College of Medicine, and finally we will think about the impact our future careers will have.
Path to medical school:
The FSU College of Medicine admissions committee received 2,369 applications for the Class of 2012. It offered interviews to 363 students. And in the end it selected 118 individuals to become members of the medical school class at Florida State.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Every member of this medical school class has taken a different path to get here, and undeniably it was the path less traveled. Some of my classmates had another career before medical school. There are former nurses here, former teachers, and even a former chemical engineer. Remember the inspiration that guided you to become a physician.
Perhaps a sick relative, a parent or a mentor convinced you this was meant for you. No matter what the reason, I am sure that you could have chosen to become a pastry chef, an artist, a rock star, a spy, a scientist or even a professional volleyball player if you desired – yet you chose medicine. Despite the different paths we have taken to get here, we are all united under the mission of our school, to be patient-centered advocates and to care for those who are underserved. Let us continue to reflect on the reasons we came to medical school, especially during residency when times are challenging.
Journey through medical school:
There are so many memories that we have shared throughout medical school, it was difficult to choose the ones that stand out as pivotal points in our training.
We all started together in Anatomy, learning perhaps the oldest facet of modern medicine. With our newly acquired gem, Professor of Anatomy Dr. Romrell, and his select team of Drs. Watson and Cavanagh, we dared to learn as much as we could from our first patients about the structures and locations of the most integral parts of the human body.
The rest of first year was packed with neuroscience, microanatomy, biochemistry, doctoring and physiology. With all of this intense scientific knowledge to learn, who would have known that we would still be able to gain valuable insights from our professors that did not pertain to science? We learned how to be “good Americans” from Dr. Jake, our microanatomy professor. Dr. Ouimet provided us with a newfound appreciation for an area of the brain called the amygdala; without its proper functioning we would surely all be under arrest. Biochemist Dr. Levenson provided her experience with how to safely microwave popcorn. On a more serious note, the late Dr. Rill, professor of biochemistry, reminded us that even in medical school we were not isolated from the realities of life.
Just remember that if you are ever giving a lecture or poster presentation and you are asked a probing scientific question, the best response should always start with a long pause and a thoughtful, “Wellllllllll.…” How was that, Dr. Overton?
Second year started like it always does, as a looming storm on the horizon. Every newly minted second-year has two fears: Step 1 and what snacks they are going to bring for Step 1 test day. To add to the fear are classes like pathology and microbiology. Between the two you pretty much cover every way that you can become violently ill or die. Although we were scared, we knew we were never alone. Our professors were there to encourage us and reassure us. Our dear bowtie-wearing pathologist Dr. Diaz, in a nerdy display of affection, calmly promised that he would always be “our helper T cell.”
Lo and behold, our professors were right and we survived second year, just like the classes before us, and we traveled to our new homes at the regional campuses. Although spread out across Florida, all of us completed the smorgasbord of medicine known as third year. We experienced surgery, family medicine, OB-GYN, internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry, all with the hope of pinning down that elusive character known as our future specialty. Whatever it may be that inspired us to choose our specialties, the decision will be one of the most important of our lives.
Match Day was a great party! It’s not every day that we get to see our deans don costumes and let loose. We will always have fond memories of their smiles and laughs as they joined us to celebrate our futures.
Not all are with us as they once were. Some things have changed. And we are not the same people we were when we started medical school together a short time ago. But we have stayed the course, we have endured. With our heads full of knowledge and our bank balances moving toward empty, we look forward to residency and our lives as real doctors…
How will you define your career? Will you continue to be the person you were before starting residency?
As we move forward, these questions will serve as a great compass for our journey, helping us to see when it is dark and allowing us to be the kind of physician we hope to become. Some of us may go on to be famous teachers, great surgeons or leaders in academic medicine. Others will gain substantial rewards as the longtime physician of their community. As physicians we will have the knowledge to alleviate suffering and the power to cure disease. Our patients will let their guard down and without fear they will share very personal things about themselves. With the knowledge and power obtained from medicine comes a great responsibility to look out for our patient and to never do harm.
Our time at the College of Medicine serves as the foundation of our careers and has had a profound influence on who we are as individuals. Let us not forget the path that brought us to medical school and the passion we have for our patients. Let us not forget our mentors and our treasured professors who up until this point have literally taught us everything we know about medicine. Let’s take the knowledge we have gained from FSU and boldly apply it to our future patients. No matter where we go or what specialty we are doing we will be asked: “What medical school did you attend?” And without a doubt we will proudly reply, “Florida State College of Medicine.”
Finally, let us not forget our loved ones who have supported us in numerous ways throughout the last four years. We are blessed to have them in our lives, and we would not be here if it weren’t for them.
Colleagues, please join me in giving our families, friends, mentors, professors and leaders the ovation they deserve.
Thank you for allowing me to guide you through your past, present, and future! It has been a privilege to serve as your class president for the last four years. I am excited about our careers and the impact we will make.
As always, remember to let the good times roll! (Laissez les bons temps rouler)