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Photo: Students of the Class of 2011 recite the Student Pledge of Commitment near the conclusion of the White Coat Ceremony.

Class of 2011 welcomed at 32nd Convocation Ceremony

by Kevin M. Sanders

Saturday, Aug. 18, Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) welcomed a new class of medical students, the Class of 2011, at its 32nd  Convocation Ceremony. Sen. John Carey, of Ohio’s 17th Senate District, was the keynote speaker at the event, which took place at 11 a.m. in Athens at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

OU-COM Dean Jack Brose, D.O., convened the event by welcoming the Class of 2011 and all those in attendance.

“We’re very proud of this class. You are continuing our tradition of recruiting classes that look like America. This year we have 25 members from racial or ethnic minorities in this class. Additionally, this class has not only the highest overall grade point average of any incoming class in OU-COM history, but also the highest GPA in the sciences. We are very, very proud of this incoming class,” said Brose.

Brose introduced the speakers and guests for the occasion, which included Kathy A. Krendl, Ph.D., Ohio University executive vice president and provost; Robert S. Juhasz, D.O., board of trustees member, American Osteopathic Association; William F. “Rusty” Emlich, D.O. (’86), president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association (OOA); Jeffrey A. Stanley, D.O. (’82), president of the OU-COM Society of Alumni and Friends; Carey; Fred M. DeGrandis, J.D., CEO of the Western Region of the Cleveland Clinic Health System; Daniel F. Dickriede, D.O. (’87), South Pointe Hospital emergency medicine physician; Peter B. Dane, D.O., associate dean for predoctoral education; D. Keith Watson, D.O., associate dean for graduate medical education; Gillian H. Ice, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of social medicine; John D. Schriner, Ph.D., director of admissions; and Daniel R. Silbiger, second-year medical student.

Emlich brought greeting from the Ohio osteopathic medical community to the class.

“You are now beginning a career of lifelong learning and will forever be an osteopathic student and part of the osteopathic profession. Your opportunities are limitless.”

He reminded them of the life-altering and life-giving power that will be entrusted to them as physicians, and as such, to pursue excellence in all that they do professionally and personally.

“You are the future of our profession. You have been granted the greatest opportunity to serve mankind, and with it all the obligations that are commensurate with that responsibility.”

Finally, he said, “Put your patients first; you are becoming an osteopathic physician.”

The Class of 2011 is comprised of 108 students, of which 59 are women and 49 are men. Nearly one-quarter (25 of 108) are minority students. Also, 18 of the class are from Appalachian counties in Ohio. The class is 87 percent Ohio residents.

Brose introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Carey, who serves as chairman of the Finance and Financial Institutions Committee in the Ohio Senate.

Carey delivered a reflective address, recalling his experiences growing up in Wellston — where he eventually became mayor — and as a student at Ohio University, where he began college in 1977.  

“I grew up a quiet kid in Wellston, a town about 35 miles west, working on my dad’s trash truck. Needless to say, I was not the person most people would pick to be in public office. However, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in my community and our region.”

“It was this desire,” he said, “to impact people’s lives that brought me to Ohio University in the 1970s, a young, inexperienced kid — the first in my family to go to college. In fact, I remember thinking that if I flunked out my first quarter, I could join the military.”

“I short,” he said, “I was scared.”

Nonetheless, he mapped out a career path in public service for himself, he said. He would work for a state representative, U.S. Congressman and then become mayor of Wellston. And he did exactly that.

Just as his education at Ohio University made a difference in his life, OU-COM has made a difference not only in the lives of the physicians it has trained, but in the communities that it and those physicians serve. One such physician, said Carey, is Douglas Jones, D.O., a 1981 OU-COM graduate, who was recently named Wellston’s Man of the Year.

“His service has been so important,” said Carey, “to the area, that for a time, if Dr. Jones was not practicing in Wellston, there would have been no doctor available. He has made a real difference.

“As incoming students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, I am confident that each one of you will also make your mark on the world not only through your medical practice but because of who each of you are as individuals.”

Carey addressed the efforts of the state legislature and Gov. Ted Strickland to help contain the costs of health care, which he said has put a tremendous strain on not only governmental budgets, but family ones, too.

“At the same time we are working to contain costs, we must also work to improve access to quality health care,” he said, citing the expansion of Ohio’s Home First program and State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which improved access and affordability for children and seniors.

Focusing on the role of the medical community, he said that although the state government may help to pay for health care, “it will be you as practitioners of medicine that will have biggest influence on the health of Ohioans.

“As I look out on this crowd of future doctors, I am confident that Ohio’s health-care system will have the resources to remain top notch well into the future.

“Just as I stepped on this campus 30 years ago with the goal of becoming a public servant, today begins your journey of realizing your goal of becoming doctors. I cannot predict all that you will accomplish, the places you will go, or the way medicine will change in the years to come, but I wish you Godspeed in the process.”

Brose then began the Phillips Medal of Public Service Ceremony.

The Phillips Medal of Public Service was first awarded by OU-COM in 1976. The award was named for Jody Galbreath Phillips and her husband, the late Wallace Phillips, to acknowledge their generosity and contributions to Ohio University, to higher education and to the people of Ohio.

The honor is given to outstanding individuals for medical practice exemplifying the best traditions of the osteopathic profession; administration exemplifying the best tradition of humane, concerned administration and public involvement; and for public policy leadership exemplifying the best traditions of democratic concern for the public good and the public welfare.

Brose provided the audience with a description of each recipient’s accomplishments as they received the medal.Keynote speaker Carey was one of three recipients of the Phillips Medal. In addition to Carey, this year’s recipients of the Phillips Medal were DeGrandis and Dickriede.

Carey, who has been a public servant for nearly 30 years, was the state representative for the 94th House District from 1995 to 2002 and also served as a congressional aide for U.S. Congressman Clarence Miller. He has had more than a dozen bills signed into law including House Bill 94 (The State Budget, 124th General Assembly), the Rural Industrial Park Loan Program and the comprehensive rewrite of Fireworks Safety Regulations in the wake of the Scottown tragedy. He has received several awards for his legislative prowess, including the 2002 National Republican Legislator of the Year award. 

DeGrandis, a past chairman of OU-COM’s Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education Board, has been a leader in hospital administration for more than 30 years, serving as legal counsel, president and CEO of various health-care institutions in the Greater Cleveland area. He also has an outstanding record of public service, and has been honored numerous times for such, including receiving the All Ohio School Board Award and the 2006 Exemplar Award for Community Service.

Dickriede, board certified by the American Colleges of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, was one of the first Americans to volunteer with the Nobel Prize-winning organization Medécins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders. From 1992 to 1994, he provided emergency medical assistance in war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan and Rwanda. Dickriede is the first alum to receive a Phillips Medal of Public Service.

The Convocation also included the school’s White Coat Ceremony, officiated by Dane, during which the members of the Class of 2011 received their white coats.

Dane explained the meaning and purpose of the White Coat Ceremony. “According to the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, who inspired this ceremony, the bestowing of a white clinical coat to new members of our profession represents a rite of passage that establishes a ‘contract for professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine.’ It signifies the blending of scientific excellence with compassionate patient care.

“At OU-COM,” Dane continued, “it also highlights the importance we place on early exposure of our trainees to clinical medicine, which they will experience within a few short weeks as they begin spending time with physicians and other health-care workers.”

Dane introduced second-year student Silbiger, who remembered the excitement and anxiety he felt last year while sitting in the same place the students of the Class of 2011 were in this year.

He offered them some advice he hoped would help guide them through their four years of medical school.

“Always offer your patients, peers, nurses, physicians and professors plenty of respect. Courtesy,” he said, “seldom exacerbates situations or interactions.”

“Become comfortable with uncertainty and be secure with yourself. When you don’t know the answer, you need to say, ‘I don’t know.’

“Be humble. Overestimating yourself will certainly limit you.

“Always be a team player. Working together will provide the best results for your patients.”

Schriner then introduced the members of the class, as they crossed the stage and were coated.

Dane led the class in a recitation of the Student Pledge of Commitment, and the event was adjourned.

Brose then closed the Convocation and invited the students and guests to enjoy a light buffet lunch and refreshments in new Baker University Center.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016