First-year students at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine began their journey as physicians August 5 when they took part in the M.D. Orientation for the class of 2025.
The event was held in the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building, where due to COVID-19 protocols, students and speakers were split into different rooms connected through Zoom. Masks and socially distanced seating were also in place as Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for student affairs, led the opening introduction welcoming the new class and introducing the various speakers.
Words of Wisdom
"I'm sure many are experiencing a myriad of emotions, but remember, the tradition of excellence that brought you here and made it possible, that's the same tradition that will allow you to thrive," said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. "This is by far the most competitive class in the Miller School, but it speaks volumes about what we expect and your ability. There is no other profession that offers you a chance to make such an impact on human life."
Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., executive dean and founding chair of the Department of Medical Education at the Miller School, followed Dean Ford's speech as she broke down the word hello with each letter signifying a target point for the class to remember.
"H is for hungry to learn; whether it's in research, community service, or your degree, it's all here and up to you to pursue it." Dr. Chandran said. "E is for energy, excitement, and energized; you will get to hear true human stories, the profession's noble cost. L is for links. There are many great resources that we have — faculty, peers, and mental health. The other L is for life; this is a little piece of your life and with the right perspective, find time to do what you enjoy, not for today but for life. O is for observing what is happening internally to you and externally in the world. As you go through the day, have that reflection of which direction you are going in."
The class of 2025 also heard from Henry Olano, second-year student and Miller School Student Government Association president, on how medical school is doable if you find your balance and take care of yourself while enjoying the moment.
As an alumna of the Miller School, Dr. Mechaber delivered a speech and presentation that took the class back to when she was a student 30 years ago and how they too will be a part of a unique journey filled with many turns, including highs and lows.
"You will be changing and making change, and we expect you to transform and each other your patients' lives," Dr. Mechaber said. "You are at the entry of one of the most noble professions. It will be full of curvy roads, and you have to be ready. Not all will be linear; lean on each other. You will learn about resources to know the light is there, ride the waves, even the bumpy ones. I hope you will feel you are above the clouds. If you feel alone, that's ok but reach out as you will go through the journey differently but not alone. There is no task you will not learn from and have some fun in Miami. Take time to decompress, stay energized and recharge. This will be a journey like no other."
Orientation further included awareness of the many resources the Miller School provides, such as Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, among other departments.
The second day was highlighted by a breakdown of the revamped M.D. curriculum known as NextGenMD, now in its second year and which focuses on mentorship, an individualized learning experience. Orientation wrapped up on its third day, when the students met the various academic societies that will serve as their peer family for the next four years.
Members of the new class can't wait to see what the next four years have to offer.
"I was astounded by the number of available resources and my class's diversity," Nikhil Patel said. "Everyone I met was incredibly unique, and I cannot wait to get to know each one of their stories more throughout my medical school journey. One aspect of medical school that I had not thought of until it was mentioned today is that many of these peers will be people I refer my patients, family members, and kids of my own to one day. That understanding of a community-oriented, 'family' style of educational engagement is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Miller School of Medicine."
"I'm looking forward to attending medical school at an institution that prides itself on being the main center for health care for South Florida as well as the Caribbean and Central and South America," Nicolette Siringo said. "The Miller School is unique in that it allows and urges students to gain hands-on clinical experience almost immediately, beginning with weekly clinics and DOCS health fairs. When long days of studying get arduous, it is important to rejuvenate through these experiences that remind us why we went into medicine in the first place."
"The Miller School offers such great resources, and I can't wait to utilize them and learn from the incredible physicians,” Kimberly Williams said. “Orientation was both informative and engaging. Hearing from the administration at the Miller School made me feel like UM is a family and the administration is here to support you in any way possible. My favorite part of orientation was walking the campus with some of my classmates during the scavenger hunt. We got lost often but had a great time. Orientation set the stage for what I hope will be a great year at the Miller School."
The M.D. class of 2025 had the highest number of applicants to date — 11,183, compared to the usual 7,000. Richard Weisman, Pharm.D., associate dean for admissions and enrollment, gave other statistics of the class, pointing out its diverse degree background and the average age 23.9. In addition, 60% of the class is female, 50% are non-Florida residents, 57% are minorities, 38% are underrepresented minorities, and the average grade point average is 3.75.