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Graduation Ceremony in Tallahassee

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May 19, 2018
Toward the end of the morning’s commencement, after the graduates had received their diplomas and the audience had given them one more ovation, Dean John P. Fogarty looked out from the lectern and issued this challenge: “Is that all you got?”
Suddenly, there came a sustained roar that shook Ruby Diamond Concert Hall down to her baseboards. On and on these families and friends cheered for their favorite brand-new M.D.s, the 108 graduates of the FSU College of Medicine’s Class of 2018.
Also during that two-hour celebration, nine grads received their military promotions. Sixteen grads were “hooded” by relatives – several of whom were College of Medicine alumni. Plus the 10 members of this year’s Bridge class received their master’s degrees.
Commencement speaker Michael Sweeney told two powerful anecdotes about patients he had treated, then took a swipe at politicians – before remembering with a sheepish grin that FSU President John Thrasher was himself a former politician. “Reformed politician,” Thrasher said with a smile when he introduced himself later.
As always, Thrasher and everyone else in attendance seemed to believe that this was the absolute best way to spend the third Saturday in May.
The graduates crossed the stage in six groups, representing the six regional campuses where they had spent their third and fourth years: Daytona Beach, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota and Tallahassee. One by one, the dean from their campus (or an M.D. family member) stood behind them and brought the hood down over their head and onto their shoulders. Then they received their diploma and posed for a photo with Thrasher and Fogarty.
In his introduction, Fogarty told the graduates: “You blessed us with your diversity, where you came from, your stories and your aspirations. Again with your class, 2018 illustrates the effectiveness of all of our efforts with pipeline and outreach programs, resulting in a remarkable degree of diversity for our school. In July 2016, out of 136 medical schools in the [Association of American Medical Colleges], the FSU College of Medicine was the only one that ranked in the top five in enrollment for both Black and Hispanic students. We are very proud of you.
“Your reputation for excellence and your support in recruiting the next classes to follow you have paid great dividends. The FSU College of Medicine has been ranked in the top three of most competitive medical schools in the country for the past two years, and we’ve had to make fewer offers to fill our classes than any other medical school in Florida.”
During his address, Class President Mark Micolucci thanked family and friends, the College of Medicine and his classmates. And he spoke of lessons learned.
“All of our examinations teach us that there is only one correct answer,” he said. “In the real world – patients are not our tests, and they do not offer multiple-choice options. We will not always be right or have the right answer, and sometimes we have to learn to be comfortable in the unknown, but never cease to try to solve it. We have to remain humble in the fact that we are not extraordinary humans doing ordinary things. Instead, we are ordinary humans who have been given the opportunity to do extraordinary things.”
Sweeney got plenty of laughs with his presentation (search below for the word “digital”), but he also prepared these new physicians for the tough moments that lie before them. And he offered words of advice, such as:
“So you now make the transition from student to doctor. Your role will change and you will be afforded unique access to other people’s lives, and with this comes a great deal of responsibility. You will become accountable for everything you do as a physician and, hopefully, you will take with you a clear understanding of patient-centeredness – which means it’s no longer about you. As you gain skills and knowledge in your area of interest, people will begin to recognize your abilities and authority. Resist the arrogance that may come with this. Arrogance threatens good patient care and can cloud your decision-making, while confidence, on the other hand, is an essential quality for a physician. Learn the difference.”
The day before graduation, 42 students were honored at an awards assembly in the Durell Peaden Auditorium. 
Soon, the new M.D.s will be heading off for the residency programs where they’ll spend the next three or more years. Meanwhile, in 10 days the newly graduated Bridge students will be back in school – this time as members of the College of Medicine’s Class of 2022.
And for those keeping score … the med school now has 1,255 alumni. 
Mission Award: Ann Loraine Roc
•    Anesthesiology Associates of Tallahassee Award: Stephanie Poteau
•    Merritt Ryals Clements, M.D., Award for Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology: Ann Loraine Roc
Nicholas Karr