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Speaker tells Heritage College grads: Have the courage to lead your profession

 
(ATHENS, Ohio — May 9, 2015) There has never been a more challenging and opportune time than now to enter the field of osteopathic medicine. That was the message the head of a national physicians’ organization delivered to members of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine class of 2015 during the college’s 36th annual Commencement ceremony Saturday. This spring, 124 student doctors from the Heritage College become physicians and surgeons.

Adrienne White-Faines, executive director and CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, called the present day “one of the most dynamic times imaginable in health care,” and one in which osteopathic physicians are ideally placed to push for a more equitable and compassionate system.

“We really have to envision that every person in our diverse society should have the right to be as healthy as possible,” White-Faines said in her commencement address. To help achieve this goal, she urged the new Heritage College graduates to “galvanize the profession to be more courageous.”

As exemplars of courage, she cited Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery in 1849 only to turn back, time and again, to help others; osteopathic medicine founder A.T. Still, who White-Faines called one of the biggest leaders in the abolitionist movement and a pioneer in allowing women to attend medical college; and the U.S. legislators who created the federal Medicare and Medicaid program 50 years ago. After that legislation passed, she noted, “more than 60 percent of Congress was voted out of office, for signing the Medicare and Medicaid Act,” though the program now provides medical coverage to more than 112 million Americans.

This last example, White-Faines suggested, shows that true courage sometimes requires “leading people not where they want to go, but where they need to go.” For the new osteopathic physicians of the Heritage College class of 2015, she said, “it is your time now to grab the courage to lead.”

She offered the graduates four pieces of advice. First, she said, “Do not limit your role to that of a physician,” but take responsibility through involvement in organizations and boards on all levels. “Do not go silent,” she urged. “You have a perspective that must be shared.”

Second, she advised, “you have to realize that you are stronger together than you are alone.” She pointed out that as the fastest-growing sector in health care, and with 25 percent of all U.S. medical students now in osteopathic colleges, D.O.s can have a major impact if they act as a group. “We are a force to be reckoned with,” she declared.

Third, White-Faines recommended that as they move into medical practice, the graduates should “balance your life. Pace yourself. Your professional journey is a marathon, not a sprint.”

And finally, she said, the new D.O.s should “have the audacity to engage… Together, we can teach the world what it feels like to engage.”

Heritage College Class of 2015 President Blake Matesic began his remarks with a quote from scientist Carl Sagan, who spoke of the earth as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” but one filled with all the richness of human life. As “imperfect beings, living on an imperfect planet that is floating in an ocean of dark chaos,” Matesic suggested, one could do much worse than to find meaning in service to others.

“We are all in the service industry now, whether you realize that or not,” he told his classmates. The greatest joy in being a physician, he said, is neither money nor prestige, but “having an opportunity, every day, to share love with someone and attempt to make them, and the ones closest to them, feel better than before they saw you.”

Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., noted that the class of 2015 continues to advance the Heritage College mission of providing primary-care physicians for the state of Ohio and the nation. He said 56 percent of the class is going into a primary care specialty; and 76 percent will stay in Ohio for their graduate medical education. “Your journey has been exciting and inspiring,” he told the class. “But the best is yet to come.”

The 2015 graduating class contained eight members who are pursuing careers in military medicine.

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio. CARE LEADS HERE.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016