One thousand chairs in tidy lines filled the Education Quad of Anschutz Medical Campus on Friday, Aug. 13. White coats draped just 160 of them.
By the end of the morning, those coats were on the backs of 160 members of the matriculating Class of 2014, symbolizing the beginning of a four-year journey into what School of Medicine Dean Richard Krugman called a "career with enormous possibilities across an extensive spectrum."
Faculty and alumni at the White Coat/Stethoscope Ceremony sent a consistent message to students emphasizing patient care.
"In the next four years, you will learn a lot about physiology," said Jean Kutner, MD, head of the Division of General Internal Medicine. Recounting life stories of several chronically ill patients, Kutner encouraged the students to "see patients as people, not as diseases."
"Their personal stories sustain us as physicians," she said.
The work of 21 fourth-year students was held up as the epitome of patient care as they were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. They were selected for their work helping people locally and internationally.
Dr. Robert Feinstein, Senior Associate Dean for ducation, drove the patient-care point home.
"I have learned that no two patients with epression or schizophrenia are alike, no two patients with heart disease are alike, no two families, no two divorces, no two children, no two jobs, no two school experiences are alike," he said.
"All cultures are unique and every individual needs our care in preserving what is unique about them."
A Week to Get Ready
The ceremony wrapped up a week of orientation that included two days in Estes Park, where the new students hiked, performed leadership and team-building exercises, and just got to know each other.
The week started early Monday, Aug. 9. Clad comfortably in shorts, jeans, t-shirts and skirts, the class began a week of orientation with breakfast on the quad and brief, anecdote-laden speeches by an A-list of School of Medicine leaders. They then headed out to the mundane but necessary business of ID badges, insurance forms and parking passes.
Krugman gave the first speech to welcome the lass, remarking there is something notable about the year of their expected graduation.
“The number of physicians per capita in the United States will begin to fall that year for the first time,” he said. In response, several medical schools, including the University of Colorado, are increasing their class sizes.
Another change that graduates face is health care reform. He told them that they would learn more about its impact in the course of their studies. “There are some positive effects in the 2,000 pages of legislation and some negative effects and some that are still unknown – possibly because they haven’t finished reading it yet,’ he joked.
Speakers applauded the students for the level of community service that they performed before entering medical school and told students it was a factor in their acceptance. They were encouraged to continue helping the community.
“There are a lot of opportunities to get engaged,” Krugman said. “Deep-seated altruism is at the core of what we do as doctors.”
Many speakers reminded the students to maintain a balance in their personal lives and their studies. But Associate Dean for Admissions Rob Winn also told the students to expect four years of hard work.
“We are going to push you hard, and we don’t apologize for that. We are going to push you to excellence because that is what your patients deserve."
Other facts about the Class of 2014:
- 3875 applications to enter the Class of 2014
- Median GPA 3.7
- Median MCAT 32
- 21 hold master’s degrees
- Two hold a PhD
- Several avid pianists
- One concert pianist
- Short-term competitive figure skater
- Creative writer - published
- Countless hours of volunteer work - domestically and abroad
- Small number grew up abroad and then immigrated here
- Competitive soccer player - 15 years
- Avid scuba diver
- Denali Pro Pin Recipient - Aided in the recovery of personal items of two deceased climbers
- Several experienced climbers
- Certified EMTs
- Six military
- Team in Training Cyclist
- AmeriCorps, Teach for America and Peace Corps volunteers
- Most have treated very young children and aging citizens
- Eagle Scout
- Several Phi Beta Kappa honorees, Fulbright Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar nominee, valedictorians, published research scientists, and other collegiate and national award recipients
- 78 colleges and universities across this country from the University of Hawaii and Harvard College to the University of Colorado, Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs
- Youngest classmate was born on Sept. 7, 1988