Michael E. Cain, MD, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, welcomes the Class of 2021 during the White Coat Ceremony.

White Coat Ceremony Celebrates Medical School’s Largest-Ever Class

Published August 18, 2017

A new class of 180 students — the largest class in the history of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences — celebrated entry into medical school with a traditional White Coat Ceremony Aug. 11 at the UB Center for the Arts.

“Seek out your passion. When you’re going through school and seeing different areas of medicine, find out what you’re passionate about, find something that sparks your curiosity, find something that can bring enthusiasm every single day.”
Clinical associate professor of orthopaedics

The White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage symbolizing the students’ commitment to professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine.

During the “calling of the class,” students were called to the stage individually and were presented their white coat as Charles M. Severin, MD ’97, PhD, who presided over the ceremony, identified their hometown and undergraduate institution.

Dean Speaks About Journey to Becoming a Doctor

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, welcomed the Class of 2021.

“You are an exceptional group of individuals. Accordingly, we have high expectations for your future accomplishments and for your leadership in medicine and science,” Cain told the class.

He spoke of the important journey each student is set to embark upon on the road to becoming a doctor.

“You will learn to be a detective, an educator, a healer, a counselor, an advocate and a compassionate human being who will share with your patients both the joy of favorable outcomes and the pain and sorrow that accompanies the delivery of tragic news,” Cain said. “This trust is a very special one, but an awesome responsibility from which there is no tolerance for second best.”

New Medical School Allows for Class Expansion

The 180 students is 25 percent more than previous class sizes of 144.

That expansion, which Cain called a necessity to help fill the physician shortage in the region and in the nation, was only made possible by the construction of the medical school’s new home on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“You can imagine the competition it took to get the 180 students here. Your metrics are just as strong as any other class we’ve ever accepted at our school,” Severin said.

Of the 180 students, 152 are from New York State, 78 are from Western New York and 40 earned their undergraduate degrees from UB.

There are 91 men and 89 women in the class. The oldest member of the class is 37 and the youngest members are 21.

The average GPA is 3.76 out of 4.0. The average MCAT score is 511.

It is a well-rounded class. The vast majority are science majors, though there are non-science majors in such areas of study as business administration, East Asian studies, sociology, mathematics, music, business, French, Italian and engineering.

Two class members have doctorates (including one juris doctor) and 14 have master’s degrees.

There are 37 class members who have double majors.

Class Has Wide Range of Interests, Experiences

Class members have a wide range of interests. They have conducted research in cardiology, particle physics, genomics, lupus, geriatric psychiatry, diabetes, pediatric epilepsy and Huntington’s disease.

They have participated in medical missionary work in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, Haiti, Uganda and Brazil.

They have volunteered at hospice, food pantries, suicide prevention hotlines, Special Olympics, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Relay for Life and equine therapy.

Numerous class members have an affinity for the arts — performing as singers, dancers and instrumentalists. The class includes a choreographer and a ballerina.

Severin indicated there is a U.S. Army veteran, a crepe chef and various editors-in-chief and fiction writers in the class, in addition to a debt collector, radio personality and stand-up comedian.

“You can see you have a diverse group of classmates. That was part of the goal of our admissions committee — to accept a diverse class,” Severin told the audience.

Keynote Speaker Tells Class to Seek Out Interests

Robert H. Ablove, MD, clinical associate professor of orthopaedics, gave the keynote address.

He emphasized the importance and responsibility of being a doctor.

“The patient-physician bond is the most amazing thing about practicing medicine. Patients will place an incredible amount of trust in you,” Ablove noted.

He implored the class to treat each patient with respect and understanding.

“Recognize this. It’s never routine for your patients. You can be doing something for the 1,000th time, but it’s the first time for that patient,” Ablove noted.

Ablove also encouraged students to find areas of study that really interest them.

“Seek out your passion. When you’re going through school and seeing different areas of medicine, find out what you’re passionate about, find something that sparks your curiosity, find something that can bring enthusiasm every single day,” Ablove told the class. “I graduated 28 years ago and I still love what I do.”

Steinbrenner Honored With Humanism Award

Lynn M. Steinbrenner, MD ’80, associate professor of medicine, was presented with the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.

The Tow Award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients, their families and health-care colleagues; and demonstrated clinical excellence.

“This is an incredible honor you bestowed upon me,” said Steinbrenner, who specializes in oncology.

She also offered encouragement for the class.

“This is the first day of what I hope is going to be a long and satisfying career,” Steinbrenner said. “I hope when you look back on this day, you remember how optimistic you are. I still feel this is our greatest profession.”

Severin Recognized for Service to Medical School

Severin, outgoing associate dean for medical education and admissions, was recognized by Cain for his years of service to the medical school.

Severin, associate professor of anatomy, chaired the Medical Admissions Committee and oversaw the acceptance of students to the school.

He earned his doctorate in anatomy at St. Louis University and his medical degree from UB.

An honored teacher, Severin received the State University of New York Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1989. He is also a six-time recipient of the coveted Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Award for Teaching Excellence in the Basic Sciences.