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Heritage College alumnus shares advice with graduates on how to find harmony in their medical careers

During his commencement address to the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Class of 2024, alumnus Andrew Yuan, D.O., a prominent Connecticut physician, drew on Taoist philosophy to encourage graduates to find harmony and balance as they prepare to embark on their medical career.

“The journey of life cannot be grasped as a concept. Rather it’s a cumulative experience of everyday living,” said Yuan, who was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 10. His mother encouraged his interest in medicine, but after he lost an arm and leg in an accident, his confidence was rattled. However, he persevered and continued to pursue his dream of becoming a physician.

Today, as an osteopathic physiatrist, Yuan specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He also is a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, an assistant clinical professor of medicine with the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, and an emeritus trustee with the Connecticut Osteopathic Medical Society.


The Class of 2024 at commencement

“I’m here as an example of what the future can be like for all of you,” Yuan told graduates. “My message for you today is to have a stress-free journey through life.”

To accomplish this, Yuan said they should keep in mind five aspects - mind, body, spirit, heart and soul – that can influence their journey. For the mind, he recommended having a positive attitude, take a holistic approach and build trust with patients.

HCOM graduate and family celebrate commencement

“The greatest medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it,” he said. “Good doctors know the disease. The best doctors know the patient who has it. Every patient is a person. Get to know that person.”

Yuan told graduates to keep their body healthy through exercise, meditation and maintaining work life balance, to remember their spirit is the pathway within themselves, their heart is their passion, and their soul makes them different from everyone else in the universe.

HCOM graduate and family celebrate commencement

“Go about your profession and life as if you are driving,” said Yuan, adding that it doesn’t matter what kind of car they drive or how fast they are going, that if they’re heading in the general direction of where they want to go, they will get there. But he warned, as a driver it’s important to pull over when they get tired and take care of their car: to service it, keep it filled with gas and clean it. “Always anticipate…plan ahead and most of all choose who you have in the car with you.”

Class of 2024 HCOM graduate Alexis Ruffing speaks at commencement

In her remarks during commencement ceremony, graduate Alexis Ruffing who served as president of the Heritage College Student Government Association on the Dublin campus and the college’s national SGA representative, reflected on the many moments in life that may have inspired students to become physicians and then influenced their training. The COVID-19 pandemic was one defining experience for the Class of 2024. 

“It’s surreal to think how far we’ve come from the uncertainties of the COVID pandemic. I’m sure you all remember experiencing our first medical school classes in small groups and social gatherings virtually. We even received our white coats in individual appointment times while wearing a face mask with a virtual convocation ceremony to follow,” Ruffing said.

HCOM graduates celebrate commencement

She reminded graduates that as they move forward in their careers, the moments they experience may be defining moments for their patients.

“Moments that may mark the hundredth or thousandth time you have diagnosed a patient but will be the first time they have to consider what that diagnosis may mean for them. Moments that may replicate those that inspired a younger version of yourself to consider becoming a physician,” Ruffing said. “So, in the moments to come over the next 10, 20 or even 40 years later, let’s commit to continue advocating for our patients and each other. Let’s create a future where compassion and care define our practice, where diversity is celebrated, change is encouraged and each moment can continue to inspire us and our patients.” 


HCOM graduate and Dr. Rufus celebrate at 2024 commencement
May 16, 2024
Staff reports