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Matriculation 2018

CU School of Medicine

Kjell Lindgren, MD, wearing his white coat onboard
the International Space Station. Lindgren donated the
coat to the School of Medicine.
Aug. 10, 2018 — At the 2018 Matriculation Ceremony of the University of Colorado School of Medicinealumnus Kjell Lindgren, MD '02, shared lessons from his training as an astronaut with members of the class of 2022.

"We practice what we call expeditionary behavior. This is the key to success," Lindgren told 184 students and hundreds of their families and friends gathered for the ceremony on Boettcher Commons on the Anschutz Medical Campus. "It is not terribly profound but it is a way to organize your priorities. It's a philosophy that you can apply daily to your work in the next four years here: self-care, team-care, mission.

"Simply, your priorities in order are to take care of yourself so you can to take care of your team so you can learn and take care of your patients."

Citing Maslow's hierarchy of needs, he said, "You can't get to self-actualization if your basic needs aren't met. You can't help your team if you're a mess. The team can't help patients if you're a mess."

While on the International Space Station for 141 days, self-care for Lindgren meant getting enough sleep, collecting the right tools, and knowing the procedures. 

"With self-care addressed, then I could focus on team-care. Every day I tried to identify something I could do for my crewmates to their brighten day; a way I could help them or be an encouragement to them."

Because they were operating with the same philosophy, his crewmates did the same for him.

"Can you imagine working on a team where every player is prepared and ready and actively looking out for their teammates?

He encouraged the new students to show up on time, prepare for the day by reading the assigned chapters or rounding on their patients, exercise, take care of their families and get enough sleep.

Not every day will be a success, he said. "Some days you have to lean on the team. Some days you are leaned on."

As he wrapped up his speech, Lindgren, who marked the 20th anniversary of his own White Coat Ceremony at CU this year, announced that he would donate his white coat to the School of Medicine.

"I carried it to the International Space Station with me as a reminder of the role that this institution, the CU School of Medicine family, has played in my life." 

White coats, along with stethoscopes purchased with donations from School of Medicine alumni​ and other benefactors, are given to students at the beginning of their medical education and serve as powerful symbols of the profession, said School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD. 

He told the new students to wear them with pride. 

"Your career as a medical student will never be over. Even though you will walk across this platform four years from now, you will be a student of medicine the rest of your life - we hope. That is what we hope to inculate in our students during their time in our curriculum."

At the ceremony, role models for the incoming class are honored.  Twenty-nine students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society​ in recognition of their excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.

Kathleen Torkko, PhD, Faculty Senate president and associate research professor of pathology, presented the 12th annual Faculty Professionalism Award to Robert Janson, MD, associate professor of the Department of Medicine-Rheumatology, and Bonnie Kaplan, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, in recognition of their humanistic patient care.