One hundred and one medical students will be placing an M.D. after their names following the commencement ceremony for UC Davis School of Medicine on Saturday, May 21, 2011, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Mondavi Center on the UC Davis campus.
This will be the 40th graduating class of the School of Medicine, and the first group of students to enjoy the entire four years of studies on the university’s Sacramento campus, which also is home to UC Davis Medical Center. Prior to 2007, students traveled between Davis and Sacramento for their coursework and clinical rotations in the hospital.
This year’s commencement features Rick Hodes, an American doctor who has lived and worked in Africa for more than 20 years. Hodes will speak about his work as medical director in Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, where he has overseen care for tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. He also serves as the senior consultant at a Catholic mission helping people who are suffering from heart and spine diseases and cancer. Hodes has worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia and Albania. He has been the subject of a cable TV documentary, “Making the Crooked Straight,” as well as a new book entitled “This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes.”
Sally Graglia, co-president of the 2011 class, worked with Hodes in Ethiopia before applying to medical school and was one of the students instrumental in inviting him to speak.
"Rick leads a life of service, teeming with compassion and rich with love that inspires everyone who crosses his path," said Graglia. "I can only hope that as physicians, my classmates and I have the same conviction to care for our patients and feel the same deep and profound sense of meaning in what we get to do each day."
Approximately 70 percent of the newly minted physicians will remain in California for their training. Nearly half of the medical students chose residencies in primary care, which includes family practice, general pediatrics and internal medicine. About 16 percent of the graduating class picked advanced subspecialty programs such as anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology.
By tradition, the ceremony also includes several special awards, including the School of Medicine Medal, which honors the student who best exhibits the qualities of leadership, scholarship and respect for human life. The award is determined by a special honors committee made up of faculty members and student representatives.
During the ceremony, in addition to the awarding of M.D. degrees, 15 other students will receive Master of Public Health degrees, and 11 students will receive Master of Health Informatics degrees. These graduate programs draw upon the multiple strengths of UC Davis in public health, epidemiology, rural health, occupational and environmental health, telemedicine and other research and academic studies. UC Davis developed its combined degree programs to address the growing need for health-care practitioners who can lead state and national efforts to track, manage and prevent injuries and disease, as well as work with large amounts of health information and data to enhance the practice of medicine and improve health for all.