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Former fed health leader prescribes ‘intentional kindness’ for record-setting medical school class

(ATHENS, Ohio — July 25, 2015) A former top federal health care official offered three bits of practical advice Saturday to members of the incoming class at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Speaking to a class of 240 matriculated medical students – the largest class in the college’s history – Marcia Brand, Ph.D., former deputy administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), suggested they cultivate three qualities: “Be confident; be flexible; be kind.”

At Saturday’s event in the Ohio University Convocation Center, the medical school welcomed its class of 2019 – the first in its history to represent its three campuses in Athens, Dublin and Cleveland. Last summer, the college opened a campus in Dublin; earlier this month, students began classes at a third location on the campus of Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville Heights. Through its three campuses, the Heritage College now is prepared to enroll a class of 240 medical students each year – 140 in Athens, 50 in Dublin and 50 in Cleveland.

Within the next decade, experts predict a national shortage of more than 45,000 primary care physicians. The 20 percent of Americans living in rural or inner-city primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) will be hit the hardest, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies. The Heritage College’s expansion into central and northeast Ohio, along with its partnerships with OhioHealth and Cleveland Clinic, is intended to address the need for more first-line physicians and for providing care where it’s needed most, in underserved urban and rural communities throughout the state.

“In its nearly 40-year history, the Heritage College has been a beacon of hope for this region, for the state of Ohio, for the nation and for the world,” said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis, Ph.D. “With the opening of its new campuses in Dublin last summer and in Cleveland earlier this month, the Heritage College is extending its good work even further.”

Brand, who served as deputy administrator of HRSA from 2009 through early 2015, was keynote speaker during Saturday’s event and received the 2015 Phillips Medal of Public Service, the college’s highest honor. This award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions in health care, education and/or public service.

She told the new students that, having shown the talent and commitment needed to be accepted into the Heritage College, they should be confident they can succeed there. Flexibility, she said, will be a crucial attribute for men and women becoming physicians “at a time of incredible transition… The science, settings and manner in which we deliver care, and the way we pay for it, are all changing rapidly – perhaps faster than ever before.”

Brand gave most attention, however, to her third piece of advice – “Be intentional about being kind.” She advised the students to make a practice of reminding themselves of the need for kindness before speaking to patients or trying to work out disagreements with professional colleagues.

“I know this sounds a little simplistic,” she admitted. “But I know that it works, helping to calm and center yourself and improving your interactions.”

Also during Saturday’s event, each incoming medical student received a white coat, symbolic of their status as physicians-in-training. With the Heritage College’s focus on training physicians to meet the most pressing health care needs of citizens in Ohio, 98 percent of the incoming class members are from in-state, 26 percent are members of under-represented groups, and 23 percent are first-generation college students in their families.

Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., thanked the new medical students for trusting the college’s vision as it has grown from one campus to three. “Looking at all these new student doctors who will be receiving their white coats today, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since our first class of 24 medical students began their studies just across the street almost 40 years ago,” he said.

Isaac Kirstein, D.O., dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland, assured the group that students from all campuses would be integral to the college’s success. “You are all pioneers who will play an important role in helping us blaze the way during this monumental period of growth for the Heritage College,” he said.

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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Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 01/28/2016