welcomes 142 aspiring physicians at white coat ceremony
Dean Emeritus John Brose, D.O., presented with college’s highest
honor at Convocation ceremony
(ATHENS, Ohio – Aug. 3, 2014) The Ohio University Heritage College
of Osteopathic Medicine welcomed 142 aspiring osteopathic physicians
and surgeons during the 38th annual Convocation and White Coat
On this beautiful August afternoon, as family and friends of the new
students filled Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Alumni Auditorium to
the sounds of the Jason Horne Jazz trio, so began a
pomp-and-circumstance celebration of the college’s newest – and
largest – entering class of students.
Sharing medical school anecdotes and recounting self-deprecating
moments in their early days as physicians, several speakers offered
poignant reminders of the humbling reality of being a physician and
caring for patients and their families.
This included John A. Brose, D.O., who described for the Class of
2017 the emotional roller coaster of patient care in his keynote
address as the recipient of the
Phillips Medal of
Public Service, the highest
honor bestowed by the college.
“Occasionally medicine can be comical,” said Dr. Brose. “I remember
doing vasectomy counseling with a married couple. I showed them
medical diagrams outlining the procedure, and both sat there smiling
and listening politely until suddenly the husband stood up and said,
'Wait just a second. Are you saying you’re going to do this on me,
not on my wife?' He took off down the hall, narrowly breaking Usain
Bolt’s record in the hundred meter sprint.”
After the laughter subsided, Dr. Brose reminded students that a
physician’s life is also full of challenges, and that for every
humorous moment, each of them in time would have to console someone
on the loss of a loved one or break the news of a patient’s terminal
illness. Dr. Brose then offered the students some touching and
poignant insight and advice.
“It is a rare privilege to be responsible for preserving someone’s
life,” Dr. Brose said. “You will be among the select few to have
that honor. No matter what specialty you choose, it is as important,
and usually more important, to treat the person inside of the body
as it is to treat the body itself.”
Dr. Brose told the future physicians that their patients would
regard a Heritage College graduate’s medical skills and knowledge as
top notch. “What they will judge you on is whether you exhibit
genuine concern for them as people. Empathy and communication skills
will be your most important medical instruments, so please speak in
words your patients can understand and avoid medical jargon. Even
simple medical terms can be misunderstood.”
his introduction, Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O.,
recognized Brose for his legacy of leadership and service and the
pivotal role he played in the college’s growth and transformation,
including the historic gift of
$105 million in 2011 from the
Foundations. Securing the gift was indeed a major achievement,
said Johnson, and he wanted to recognize Dr. Brose’s other
accomplishments, as well.
“At heart Jack is a true teacher,” Dr. Johnson said of Dr. Brose.
“Our students’ welfare and education were always his first priority.
He knows that the college is only as good as its students, and it’s
no surprise that he has received so many outstanding instructor
awards during his time here, or that even in his new position as
vice provost – a challenging role by any measure – he spends a third
of his time teaching.”
Dr. Brose also made patient care a priority, Johnson said of his
founding of the college’s free clinic, and how he regularly treated
patients there while dean.
Our students gain clinical experience in their first week
Austin T. Moore
Medical students are required to wear the short white coat while
accompanying physicians in clinical settings. Unlike other medical
schools, OU-HCOM has long bestowed the coat in the early weeks of
classes, since Heritage College students have patient contact and
clinical experiences in their first weeks of medical school.
Austin T. Moore, a second year OU-HCOM student and 2013 president of
the college’s Student Government Association, used himself as an
example to illustrate the integrity and trust the white coat
instantly confers on the person wearing it, whether deserved or not.
He recounted his own humbling experience – in clinic, with a doctor
in front of a patient – of having his stethoscope on backwards, and
the terrified response of the patient who realized he was in the
presence of someone “as green as green could be.”
“While the white coat makes you look like a doctor, it doesn’t
always make you feel like one, and it definitely doesn’t make you
one,” Mr. Moore said.
“The white coat symbolizes hope and the purity of our profession,”
Mr. Moore added. “You are stepping into this role today, and you
will be changed after this moment. When you put on your white coat
you will be a symbol of hope, integrity and compassion.”
Wayne R. Carlsen, D.O., senior associate dean, explained “the white
coat has come to signify the trust people place in us and the great
responsibility that being a physician entails. While learning the
scientific method and applying it to medical decisions is critical
preparation for all physicians, the development of a standard of
professionalism, compassion and respect for the public trust is
“You are the future of osteopathic medicine,” said Robert L. Hunter, D.O.,
president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association, which provided the
white coats to the students. “We are committed to your success. And
we will be here for you over the next four years and beyond,
providing extracurricular education, and leadership and networking
opportunities. It is through these opportunities that you will
discover the national leadership role that Ohio plays in the
Gregory A. Hill, D.O., a 1986 graduate and president of the board of
the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine Society of
Alumni and Friends, led the students in the Student Pledge of
Commitment. In addition to Dr. Hill, physicians who presented
students with their white coats included:
Robert L. Hunter, D.O.
Wayne Carlsen, D.O.
William Burke, D.O. (’88)
Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D.
Kevin Lake, D.O. (’92)
Nicolas Espinoza, D.O. (’90)
Nicole Wadsworth, D.O. (’97)
Tracy Marx, D.O. (’92)
Mitchell Silver, D.O. (’89)
Rebecca Strickland, M.D.
Robert Hampton, D.O. (’84)
“I am so excited that you have chosen a career in osteopathic
medicine. It’s a career like no other,” Dr. Johnson told the
students. “Your success will come from how deeply you care for
people, their problems and their health — and how well you use your
talents and knowledge to help your patients and their families.”
“During orientation, I asked how many of you were from Ohio, and
almost everyone in the room raised their hand,” Johnson said.
Ninety-three percent of the entering class is from Ohio, a record
for the college and possibly for any medical college in the state,
he said. The class also has the highest combined MCAT [Medical
College Aptitude Test] scores in the college’s history. “I think
that makes you pretty smart,” he added.
“Regardless of who you are, where you come from, and what you hope
to achieve during your studies, you were selected because you have
the potential to be an outstanding osteopathic physician,” Dr.
Roderick J. McDavis, Ph.D., Ohio University President, and Pamela J.
Benoit, Ph.D., Ohio University executive vice president and provost,
welcomed students to Ohio University and Athens.
Courtney and Andrea Lee, sisters and Xavier University of Louisiana
graduates, are among the nineteen percent of this year’s class who
are underrepresented minorities.
"Rural and Urban Scholars with
Timothy Law, D.O. ('94), M.B.A."
A commitment to serve in our communities of greatest need
Among the Class of 2017 were eight students in the inaugural class
of the Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways program, a new initiative
made possible by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations gift. The
program was developed to directly address Ohio’s shortage of primary
Guisinger understands the urgent need for physicians in underserved
areas, having worked in an inner-city clinic as an undergraduate
nutrition student at the University of Cincinnati. The experience
confirmed her decision to enter medical school and apply to be a
Scholar. The Pathways program was a “perfect alignment” of her
desire to be a primary care physician and eventually practice in a
physician shortage area.
“I went to live in an urban environment, and I saw there was a real
need for primary care physicians, which I’d always had an interest
in being,” Ms. Guisinger said. “This program brings all those things
Benjamin Oldach had a similar experience after working in an urban
healthcare facility while attending graduate school at the Ohio
State University. “I knew that I wanted to be a primary care
physician and work in an underserved area,” Mr. Oldach said. He
interviewed many patients in Columbus about the lack of access to
continuing health care. “A big thing they often said is that they
may find a physician, but they would leave after three years. I want
to help change that,” he said.
Twelve percent of this year’s class hail from one of Ohio’s 19
Appalachian counties, and more than 30 members are first generation
Andrea Merry, a native of nearby Rio Grande, Ohio, and a graduate of
Rio Grande College, is the first in her family to attend college. “I
knew I wanted to enter a health care profession, and I am trying to
be a trailblazer,” she said. Upon graduating she hopes to join the
military and become a primary care physician, possibly a
Another first generation college student is Morgan Werry from
Chester, Ohio, in Meigs County. An exercise science education major
from Ohio State University, Werry has wanted to be a physician for
as long as she can remember.
“My mom is a licensed practical nurse and she always inspired me,”
said Ms. Werry. “Another inspirational figure has been Kelly Roush,
D.C., a certified athletic trainer specialist.” Ms. Werry has worked
with Roush over the past four summers.
These two key figures taught Werry the importance of being a strong
role model and inspiring others to achieve more than they think
possible. That’s why she came back to her friends and family in
Meigs County. And she has every intention to stay and practice in
southeastern Ohio. “I want to support the local kids and athletes,”
she said. “They need to be inspired.”
The next generation of osteopathic physician-scientists
Thanks to the expansion of the joint D.O./Ph.D. program made
possible in part by funding from the Osteopathic Heritage
Foundations, three incoming students – Ian Ackers, Alison Brittain
and Quyen (Jason) Luong – will pursue both a doctorate in
osteopathic medicine and a doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.).
completing her first bachelor degree in psychology at Pepperdine
University in California, Alison Brittain returned to her adopted
home of Cincinnati to earn a second bachelor degree, in biology.
While conducting endocrine research with a professor at the
University of Cincinnati, she decided to become a physician. It was
something of a revelation, she said.
“I’d been coaching kids’ lacrosse and running a business out west,
and then suddenly, age 24, I realized I wanted to be a doctor! I’ve
always loved studying, so for me the D.O./Ph.D. program is the
perfect mix of research and clinical practice.”
Shortly after being accepted to OU-HCOM, she decided to continue her
endocrine studies and work on growth hormone research with John
Kopchick, Ph.D., Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of
molecular and cellular biology. Ms. Brittain said that her interests
in working with Dr. Kopchick are “to better define the role of
growth hormone during development and dysfunction.”
Luong from Cleveland said he was most struck by the people he met
when he came to the Heritage College. “Everybody was so friendly
from the start. It just felt right,” he said.
Mr. Luong said that while he loves the idea of having a clinical
practice, he’s always been driven by a desire to find answers. “I
want to find a problem and solve it,” he said. His research will
focus on neuromuscular science.
A commitment to serving our country
Six members of the Class of 2017 are receiving scholarships from
various branches of the United States military, which they will
enter as physicians upon graduation. For Spencer Hirt, committing to
active duty was an easy decision: he’d already served in the Navy
Reserve for four years before enrolling at OU-HCOM. “Being a
physician has been on the radar for me for a long time,” he said.
Introduced to osteopathic medicine by a medical professional
acquaintance, Mr. Hirt said attending the Heritage College with the
goal of re-enlisting in the Navy seemed like the obvious choice.
“The military has been nothing but a blessing in my life. It helped
me get through college and it’s now helped me get to OU-HCOM.”