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2014 Medical Commencement

May 19, 2014

  Medical commencement 2014
As I looked around at the many familiar faces during Monday's reception and had the pleasure of meeting so many proud families, I was reminded of Rep. John Lewis's message at Emory's commencement that morning: we must strive to help each other because we all live in the same house—whether that be a university, a community, or a planet.

As this year's graduates leave "our house," I know they have the skills, experience, and confidence required to make a difference, as well as a willingness to do so.

Part of what we teach at the School of Medicine is not only how to do what we do, but the deeper obligations of being a healer and the character expected of a physician, especially an Emory physician.

To be a physician requires not just a broad base of knowledge and abilities but also a generosity of spirit, a highly ethical disposition, and—as stated in the Hippocratic Oath—a "system of regimen" that in all ways favors and benefits our patients.

Two themes emerged again and again in the remarks of the day: that we must strive to embody—and to foster in those we mentor—a love of lifelong learning and a deeply held sense of compassion.

These traits are evident in our faculty honorees, selected by their peers and students. Hearty congratulations to Dr. Nicolas Krawiecki, the Papageorge Distinguished Faculty Award recipient, Dr. Thomas Dodson, the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, and Dr. Whit Sewell, the honorary class member. Student comments about the recipients included "consistently encouraging," "teaches by example," and "we are embraced, loved, and respected."

Congratulations as well to Dr. Carlos del Rio, who received the Thomas Jefferson Award at the university-wide ceremony, for distinguished service to Emory.

I also want to express gratitude to our golden gown alumni from the classes of 1964 and earlier, who returned to celebrate beside us, each an example of a life of learning, well applied.

The Rev. Lisa Garvin asked that we be "granted compassion that we might be instruments of hope and healing."

Dr. Wright Caughman advised our graduates to "adapt, lead, and serve your patients," and to take the time to sit with patients, look into their eyes, laugh with them, commiserate with them, and comfort them.

As our keynote speaker, Dr. Howard Koh (assistant secretary for health with the US Department of Health and Human Services, the son of Korean immigrants, and the father of a new doctor himself) reminded us: the trust people will place in you is sacred, and one few other professions enjoy. "Your patients," he added, "will teach you, in profound and unexpected ways."

And so, as members of the Class of 2014 proceed to their next transformation, I wish them well. But I also wish for them some unanticipated moments, moments in which they are stumped, stymied, frustrated, even overcome.

These are the very moments in which true learning occurs.

Best regards,


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