Incoming students and their families heard encouraging words and congratulatory remarks from several Upstate physicians at the OnCenter ballroom in Syracuse.
David Duggan, MD, Dean of the College of Medicine, complimented the class on the intelligence, hard work and character required to be accepted into medical school, and asked the students to reflect on the support their families have given them along the way.
Ramsay Farah, MD, president of the Onondaga County Medical Society, invoked the words of NASA Project Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom, who disliked public speaking but was asked to address workers at a U.S. rocket factory in 1959 during America’s space race with the Soviet Union.
“Do good work,” was all Grissom came up with. But the workers took it to heart and the words became a motivational banner at the factory. Grissom was a brave yet vulnerable man who put his life in the hands of others — an appropriate lesson for aspiring physicians to hear during the symbolic White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Farah said.
Lawrence Chin, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, offered several bits of wisdom based on his experiences.
* Patients trust us with their lives, he said. Our responsibility is to them and to their families. Empathy isn’t always possible, but compassion and respect are necessary. “That’s something you should demand of yourself,” he said.
* Take mistakes seriously. Never miss an opportunity to learn, especially from mistakes. “Mistakes hurt,” he said. “And you don’t want to ever forget the lessons that you learn from them.”
* Pay attention to the people you meet and feel compassion for them. Learn something new every day. “You’re all poised on the brink of something wonderful,” Dr. Chin said. “This is the start of a career, a life’s work that is going to touch you, and those around you … most of all, always do the right thing.”