Members of the brand new Miller School M.D. Class of 2023 were greeted at orientation by Dean Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., celebrating “the day that begins your exhilarating journey.”
“I know for most of you it’s the journey of a lifetime, the journey that is ultimately going to take you to one of your most cherished goals: to become a doctor,” Dean Ford said. “I can tell you that our profession is one of the most noble ones in this universe. There is really no other profession that can exert this kind of impact on another human being.”
Dean Ford and several other leaders emphasized the importance of working together, and of asking for help when it’s needed during the journey. “You need to learn from one another. You need to be able to depend on each other,” Dean Ford said at opening day on Aug. 8. “Recognize that the way we practice medicine is not in isolation. It’s really all about inter-professional education,” working with different sub-specialists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and many others.
“Because we picked you and we are so proud of this class, we hold ourselves accountable to make absolutely sure that you succeed,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy. “So here’s the deal – the only error you can make in medical school is not to ask for help.”
The new students were reminded that the practice of medicine is changing rapidly. “Medicine will transform who you are, and you will have the ability to transform medicine,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education. “In fact we’re counting on you to do that. We intend to produce transformative leaders, and they’re sitting right here.”
These leaders-in-the-making are a very select group. Richard S. Weisman, Pharm.D., associate dean for medical admissions and enrollment, introduced his presentation on the characteristics of the class by saying, “Wow, what a year!”
“We started out with 9,164 applications – a lot of people wanted to be sitting in the seats you’re occupying today,” he said. About 5,000 applicants were eligible to be considered for an interview, and out of that group one in 10 were interviewed. The fact that only 1.7 percent of the original pool made it into the class, Dr. Weisman said, is “a tribute to your accomplishments, your hard work and your dedication.”
Members of the class come from many different states and graduated from many distinguished universities. Other notable statistics include:
- 43 percent are from outside the state of Florida.
- 49 percent are women. When the M.D./M.P.H. students are included, the class is 54 percent women.
- 62.6 percent are minorities.
- The average grade point average was 3.72.
- The average MCAT score was in the 87th percentile nationally.
Leah Colucci, a third-year medical student who is president of student government, welcomed the new students to the Miller School family. “Regardless of what your background is, this is a huge transition in your life, so please reach out,” she said. “The upperclassmen genuinely want to see you succeed and help you, and we’re all where we are because of wonderful mentors.”
Amar Deshpande, M.D., gave the class a quick introduction to the NextGenMD initiative that will be incorporating new teaching and learning methods, including making medical education more interactive and introducing clinical skills earlier. In addition to individual patient care, population outcomes and team science are important, Dr. Deshpande said. “Everything’s about collaborative practice in clinical areas and research.
“Hopefully this will lead to graduates who are not just really good clinicians, really good researchers, really good educators, but hopefully people who are in teams that use implementation science to improve the science of how we deliver health care,” he said.
“It was important for us to come up with a ‘why’ statement,” he added. “It’s important to know not just what you’re doing but why you’re doing it. We are empowering our learners to transform lives and inspiring them to serve our global community.”
The two days of orientation included descriptions of the curriculum, including a strong emphasis on communication skills, and information about support services and policies, diversity and inclusion, financial assistance, and several other areas.
Dean Ford described the attributes that were important to the admissions committee, and will remain important to the students throughout their careers. “As you approach your studies, let your curiosity flow. Also your creativity,” he said. Leadership, tenacity and determination are essential for everyone. “It’s about sticking to it, it’s about persevering and remembering that you have a whole network of dedicated faculty who view your success as their success.”
Achieving balance is required for that success, and for emotional well-being, he said. “And never forget compassion and humility. These will never leave you no matter how stressed you get at certain times.”
“Family is very important to us here, and I think that’s really unique and special,” Dr. Mechaber told the students. “We’re really excited you’re here, and thrilled that you’re part of the family. Congratulations again!”