Ninety-six medical students soon will put “Dr.” in front of their names following the 2014 commencement ceremonies at UC Davis School of Medicine.
By tradition, the students file into the auditorium following a bagpipe marching band, with its cacophonous sounds resonating throughout the large hall. Proud family members and friends, clutching both cameras and tissues, will fill the center along with faculty and staff to witness the culmination of four challenging years of medical education.
Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2014 is Brandon Kuiper, who is pursuing advanced training through a combined Air Force/Army internal medicine residency at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas.
“The most inspiring aspect of my medical training was interacting with patients,” said Kuiper, who found out he’d been accepted to medical school while working as a substitute teacher in his hometown of Phelan, California. “I still remember my very first patient whose life story opened my eyes to what it meant not to have access to health care. When I get overwhelmed or frustrated, I recall her struggles and the challenges she faced, and I know my own issues pale in comparison. I am reminded that this is the reason I chose a career in medicine.”
While Kuiper is headed out of state, the majority of his classmates (approximately 64 percent) are remaining in California for their medical training, with about 20 percent of the class doing their residencies in Sacramento.
The event also features a commencement address by Faith Fitzgerald, long-time professor of internal medicine at UC Davis and a nationally recognized educator and diagnostician. Fitzgerald, whose ability to guide clinicians in the science and art of medicine and compassionate patient care has been described as legendary and inspirational by students and colleagues alike, has attended all but one of the school’s commencements during the past 35 years.
Video: Class of 2014 graduate Brandon Kuiper
Fitzgerald, who recently was honored for her dedication and excellence in medical education, says it’s an excerpt from the Wordsworth poem The Prelude that sums up her feelings about each graduating class of physicians-in-training: "What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how."
In addition to the degrees being handed out for the M.D.’s, 24 other students will receive a Master of Public Health degree, and an additional 14 students will be awarded a Master of Health Informatics degree. These graduate-level 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 these related programs to address the growing need for health-care practitioners who can lead state and national in 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.