I recently attended the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine graduation for the class of 2013. It had special meaning for me since this was the last group of students at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine-Charles M. Schmidt Florida Atlantic University (FAU) joint venture to pass through my tutelage prior to the Boca Raton program becoming solely an FAU program.
One of the graduates visited my office weekly for two years and then once per quarter the following year. He came to me as a first year student to learn how to take a history and do a physical exam after being out in the world working for a few years, post-college, as a psychiatric nurse. He was extremely nervous about being able to remember how to study and succeed at test taking with the younger more academic students. He brought a mature determined attitude to his mission and was now finishing at the top of the class.
Also among the graduates was my niece who liked the small class size of the program, the early introduction of patient contact and the ability to develop strong relationships with the faculty. Despite being a mature 23-year-old future pediatric emergency room physician, at 56 inches and 85 lbs., she still got “carded” when she ordered white wine at a post ceremony celebration.
Then there was “Mike” a young enthusiastic African American student who I met for the first time last year while chaperoning a community service health screening in an impoverished section of Fort Lauderdale. My first year student is his best friend and he sent Mike over to me because his mentor was not present.
“I have this middle aged woman with a butterfly rash and all the signs and symptoms of lupus. I have never seen lupus before so how do I help her.”
Mike was correct in his diagnosis and then became her supporter and advocate in helping her gain access to medical care and follow up.
At the post-ceremony reception we met Adam, the son of a colleague, who gave my wife a big hug because she was his teacher in 3-year-old preschool and he remembered her because she taught him to love education and learning.
The president of the University of Miami,, and former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, presided over the ceremonies and reminded the new physicians of what an exciting time this was to be entering the field of medicine. These young physicians will be at the forefront of the changes in health care delivery in medicine. They have been given the best of training over four years in evidence based medicine and all the latest technology without forgetting the importance of the personal touch and humanism. The caring and compassion for others putting the patients’ needs first was the theme hammered home all night by the talented and accomplished faculty and guest speakers.
I left the ceremonies with a new sense of optimism looking at a diverse but already accomplished group of young physicians. I feel comfortable they will steer patient care in the correct direction and I feel fortunate that I was able to play a very small role in their nurturing and education.
Steven Reznick is an internal medicine physician and can be reached at Boca Raton Concierge Doctor.