Sixty-six University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix medical students officially became physicians Monday during ceremonies that marked the sixth graduation for the downtown Phoenix medical school.
Led by a bagpipe and drum corps, commencement exercises began with a procession from the college to Phoenix Symphony Hall, where the graduates were officially conferred their Doctor of Medicine degrees. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix has now graduated 273 physicians in six years. The school opened in 2007 in what was then the largest city in the nation without an allopathic (MD-granting) medical school. The College is helping address the critical shortage of physicians in Arizona.
Kenneth S. Ramos, MD, PhD, PharmB, interim dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, told the graduates they represent “the most important element in the amazing evolution and transformation of the College of Medicine – Phoenix as we strive to achieve our place among the best institutions of higher learning in educating physicians and advancing the frontiers of medicine.
“We send you out as ambassadors of the College of Medicine – Phoenix,” Dr. Ramos said. “Please become the physicians that your patients value, trust and respect.”
A hooding ceremony and the recitation of the oath were part of the festivities, which included an address by Jeffrey M. Trent, PhD, President and Research Director for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix.
“You – the class of 2016 – are the first generation of physicians who will truly be charged with putting into medical practice the growing information that is clinically actionable in the 3 billion letters of our DNA genome,” Trent said, adding that with Precision Medicine, this generation of doctors will be able to administer “the right drug for the right patient at the right time.”
Trent challenged the graduates to ask themselves four questions: What will you contribute, what will you do about faith, what will you do with love and how will you keep fun in your life? “There exists no secret formula for achieving a balanced life, but as for making a difference each day, I ask that you promise your best effort,” he said.
Graduating senior Aaron Klassen, who will begin his emergency medicine residency this summer at the Mayo School of Graduate Education in Rochester, Minn., delivered the student address.
“The attribute that we all shared four years ago is that we were already doctors,” he said. “We lacked the knowledge, the training, the experience and most importantly the diploma, but the core of who a physician is – a person who sacrifices for others, seeks to relieve suffering, finds problems and creates solutions – that essence was already present in the classmates that I met in July 2012 on Day One.”
Klassen said medical school has “given us profound new opportunities to be the people we were when we started four years ago.”
The ceremony capped a day of celebration that began with a faculty awards breakfast where medical students recognized outstanding faculty members. The day also included a senior luncheon with graduates cited for awards by specialty and achievement in the community, for humanism and scholarship.
Of the 66 Class of 2016 graduates, one third are pursing primary care fields, the most critical shortage facing Arizona, and 24 will be in residency programs in Phoenix or Tucson. Overall, the students will continue their studies at programs in 20 states.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007 and currently has 301 students training to be physicians. The College inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. We are uniquely positioned to accelerate the biomedical and economic engines in Phoenix and the State by leveraging our vital relationships with key clinical and community partners. For more, visit phoenixmed.arizona.edu.