One hundred and eight medical students can officially enjoy being addressed as "doctor" following the commencement ceremony at UC Davis School of Medicine this morning.
Today's event on the Davis campus represented the 41st graduating class from the School of Medicine. The students filed into the Mondavi Center, led by the pomp and circumstance of a bagpipe marching band. Proud family members, friends and medical school faculty and staff packed the hall, with many using cell phones and cameras to capture the culmination of four challenging years in the world of medical education.
Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2012 was Leslie Crebassa, who is moving on to residency training in emergency medicine at a hospital in Fresno next month.
"I have been inspired by those patients and families who deal with illness or injury in a loving or constructive way," said Crebassa, in an e-mail prior to commencement. "People may not realize it, but physicians can be as affected by their patients as their patients are affected by them."
Along with Crebassa, approximately 70 percent of the graduating class plan to remain in California for the next step in their physician training. Nearly half of the students chose residencies in primary care, which includes family practice, general pediatrics and internal medicine, areas in medicine where physician shortages can be particularly acute. About 13 percent of the medical students chose advanced subspecialty programs such as anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology.
This year's commencement included nine graduates from the school's Rural PRIME program, a special curriculum developed to attract and prepare future physicians for careers in medically underserved and diverse communities around the state. This was the first group of students to experience their third-year clinical rotations in the field. Students were assigned 4- and 8-week clerkships in primary care, pediatrics and OB-GYN, where they worked alongside experienced local physicians in smaller, more rural communities like Jackson, in Amador County.
The ceremony also featured a commencement address by Leon Jones, the school's associate dean for Student Affairs and a clinical professor in the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Jones spoke about the connections students make to their communities and patients, connections that help shape them as individuals and as the physicians they will become during their careers in medicine.
In addition to the awarding of M.D. degrees, 24 other students received Master of Public Health degrees, and four students received 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.