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Student leader shares message with fourth-year medical students

March 19, 2020

E. Scott Wong, PhD, OMS-IV 

Thank you Dean Johnson, Dean Carlsen, and OU-HCOM for hosting this Video Conference.

Class of 2020, as Dean Johnson said, this truly is an unprecedented time. I want to thank the tireless efforts of the college as we navigate together through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

To give perspective on the student involvement, and work that the student leadership has had with the college on these critical decisions, I would like to provide transparency into the amazing response that your student leaders have had.

I spoke with Dean Johnson directly following the decision to suspend 3rd and 4th year clinical rotations. It was immediately clear that this decision was not something that was made lightly, and involved not only the leaders at OU-HCOM – but also medical school deans across the state, and leaders at the highest levels of public health and medical education. It was also immediately apparent that the impact of these critical decisions on students was at the forefront of all of these discussions AND that the concerns of our colleagues have not been minimized or overlooked.

Within minutes of the conversation with Dean Johnson, I was on the phone with Uly and Nate, the SGA Presidents at our sister campuses – and in moments we had constructed a survey to address questions and concerns that students had across the state. Further, within hours a joint Video Conference for all 4th year students had been scheduled.

Dean Johnson, thank you for this swift and decisive action taken by OU-HCOM.

Dr. Acton, the Ohio Director of Health, summarized well the feelings of many about the unprecedented decisions that are being made today. She stated that one of the dilemmas of a national crisis and pandemic is that, “on the front-end they will say you did too much, and on the back-end that you did not do enough.”

I can speak without reservation when I say that the first and foremost priority at OU-HCOM is the safety and well-being of our students – the safety and well-being of our colleagues. Again, thank you OU-HCOM for these swift and difficult decisions.

Class of 2020! We are the class of “perfect vision.” It is often said that hindsight is 20/20. However, in this instance I would ask of you – I would encourage you – to focus on your 20/20 vision of the future. WE ARE GOING TO BE DOCTORS!

In the story of our medical education the final page does not end, it will not end, with COVID-19! The final page of our story will end reading in BIG, BOLD letters, “We are doctors!” The only thing that is changing in our story is the plot. The “how” of how we reach that final page.

All of OU-HCOM has been, and will be working, 24/7, on our behalf to ensure that all 4th year students are meeting the standards of medical education and graduation requirements.

For us, this will mean finding strength in one-another and finding strength in flexibility – or tensegrity if you will – as we pursue truly innovative means to achieve our goals. Sadly, there will be questions that cannot be answered today. I ask the student body to find our tensegrity as we navigate through the coming days.

I would like to end with a quote from Mr. Rogers; he said that in times of crisis, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” This is ever true in our calling as future physicians. Each of us has friends; each of us has mentors; each of us has family who are the first responders, who are the helpers, who are our heroes.

As we continue on this journey ask yourself: “Am I a helper?” “How can I be a helper?” And thank those who are making these daily sacrifices on our behalf.


E. Scott Wong, Ph.D., OMS-IV, past SGA president and national representative, spoke to our fourth-year students during a videoconference with college leadership this week to discuss how clinical education will play out during the COVID-19 pandemic.