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Matriculation 2017

CU School of Medicine

Aug. 11, 2017 - At the 2017 Matriculation Ceremony of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, keynote speaker Brian Dwinnell, MD, gave the 184 incoming students one of the first homework assignments of their four years of medical school. 

“I want you to carefully read your personal statement from your application for medical school and then I want you to sincerely internalize the sentiment. Somewhere in essentially everyone’s narrative it refers to helping people. It’s a phrase that may be dismissed as simplistic and trite. But the reality is this is the essence of a career in medicine and it unifies us as a profession.” 

Dwinnell, associate dean for student life, told students and hundreds of their families and friends gathered for the ceremony on Boettcher Commons on the Anschutz Medical Campus that there is no room for arrogance in compassionate care. “You are becoming a member of a health care team with shared values and goals. As a medical professional you should always remain humble.” 

Although attention has focused on technological advances in medicine, “I would argue that there has never been a time in our existence for which a group of people committed to improving the life of others has been more valuable."  

At the ceremony, also known as the White Coat Ceremony, students are reminded they are joining a community. Each student dons a white coat with the assistance of a faculty member and each student receives a gift: a stethoscope purchased with donations from School of Medicine alumni.  

In addition, role models for the incoming class are honored. Anna Bruckner, MD, associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics and Abigail Lara, MD, associate professor of medicine, received the Annual Faculty Professionalism Award and 25 fourth-year students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, recognizing them as exemplars of humanistic patient care.  

Dwinnell’s remarks echoed those of School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, who marked the tremendous developments in patient care over the course of his career. “With the advent of technology and everything else going on it’s easy to lose sight of the humanistic qualities that are important in delivering patient care.”  

Physicians have a responsibility to medical students, Dwinnell said, noting that the title “attending,” referring to hospital and clinic doctors, means “being present, listening, addressing the needs of those around us. Any one of us can stand before our trainees and passionately espouse words of professional wisdom. But it is by observation and experience that we learn. It’s the so-called hidden curriculum. If I finish my address today and then walk into the hospital where a student witnesses me berating a colleague or a hospital staff member, what has that student truly learned?” 

Medical school will be challenging, he said, but it will not be “complete drudgery. On the contrary I have incredibly fond memories ... The friendships that will be forged will last a lifetime. Some of you will even meet your spouse as I did. You’ll meet incredible people from all walks of life who can serve as role models and shape your personal and professional life. It is not an exaggeration to say that your personal growth over the next four years will likely exceed all that has transpired in your life prior to medical school.” 

Patients and fellow caregivers can be incredible teachers if you let them, he said.  

“If you focus on being responsible and caring to everyone around you, you’re well on the way to successful career and more importantly, a rewarding life.”