"We thought about Dr. Garrity with every crane we folded," said a tearful Jennifer Case, bound for University of Washington for a pediatrics specialty.
Garrity told the 147 students and their families and friends, gathered Friday to learn where they will serve their residency years, that as a patient she appreciates residents who spend a few extra moments with her to ask or answer questions, or to just chat.
"On a late night first admission to an inpatient service, a resident who was reviewng my medication list stopped, moved away from her computer and said 'I feel terrible for you. I can see that you must have had a big trip planned ...'" Garrity, who was associate dean of the Office of Student Life for 14 years, said at the morning ceremony at the Marriott City Center in Downtown Denver. "She could see the yellow fever vaccine and the prescription for the anti-malarial drugs that were in preparation for a trip to Africa that had been planned for two weeks down the road."
The resident and Garrity talked about the trip and about the hope that Garrity would be able to make the trip someday.
"That kindness and a real conversation between two human beings, not about medical issues, has stayed with me even though I never saw that resident again," Garrity said.
Patients are important, but family and friends carry equal weight in the life of a new doctor, Garrity said.
"You will have to walk away from those needy patients and colleagues at the end of the day and come home with some residual energy ..." she said. "There will certainly be days when your work was so demanding, so physically and emotionally exhausting there really is nothing left. Hopefully, you and your family will have had this conversation so they will recognize and understand and give you the support you need in these moments. Hopefully, you will also know that you can and will pay back for this."
A good life balance includes self-care, Garrity advised.
"The very best physicians know how to take care of themselves. If you are not healthy and cannot model health for your patients you cannot be the best physician in the long run."
School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, predicted that students will create enduring bonds during residency years.
"It's very obvious interacting with people around the room that a lot of you have formed very close friendships during your four or more years at the medical school. And the same will be true at your residency. Some of the lifelong friendships that you will look back on 30 or 40 years from now will arise from those days in residency because of your shared experiences with each other."
Each year in mid-March, graduating medical school students across the country find out simultaneously where they will perform their residencies, which can last between three and 10 years. The students have visited residency programs and ranked the places where they hope to get training. Those places have ranked the students they want for their programs. When all that ranking is done, the National Residency Matching Program puts it all together to determine the match for more than 16,000 graduating medical students from across the United States.