Published May 2, 2014
The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences graduated 128 medical students during its 168th commencement on May 2.
Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the medical school, presided over the ceremony at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.
Six students in the Class of 2014 earned dual degrees, as follows:
The 66 men and 62 women will pursue multiple specialties during their residency programs — the next step in their medical training. Fifty-eight percent will stay in New York State.
Honored Speaker Nancy H. Nielsen, MD ’76, PhD, has excelled as a national and regional leader in medicine and health care reform.
The UB medical school alumna is a former president of the American Medical Association (2008-2009) and an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
For two years, she was a senior adviser for stakeholder engagement at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The internal medicine physician also holds a doctorate in microbiology from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Nielsen urged the new MDs to focus on person-centered care. “Try to understand each person’s life you encounter,” she told them.
“Your impact is far beyond what you realize, so choose your words and temper your reactions with that knowledge in mind. Remember that you’re a guest in [your patients’] lives.”
Nielsen has served on the boards of numerous health, safety and insurance organizations, including the National Patient Safety Foundation and Kaleida Health. She also was chief medical officer of the Buffalo-based Independent Health HMO.
Now senior associate dean for health policy at UB’s medical school, Nielsen is helping the university prepare to assume a leading role in transforming health care delivery in Western New York. She also is a clinical professor of medicine, and a former senior associate dean for medical education.
In recognition of her extraordinary service to UB, Nielsen was honored with a President’s Medal during the main undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 18.
Class speaker Matthew R. Austin, a member of both the Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, graduated magna cum laude.
Austin received the John Paroski, MD Memorial Award for compassion and excellence in patient care.
He also was honored with the Morris and Sadie Stein Award for achieving the highest grade in his first-year neuroanatomy course.
Given in honor of all parents of medical students, this award is named for the parents of a former UB medical student.
Austin will pursue his internal medicine residency at Rhode Island Hospital/Brown University.
According to editors Eliane Abou Jaoude and Rachel E. Aliotta, “for four years he has been a true mentor, physician role model and paternal figure in medicine for many of us.”
“We’ve valued his advice and position across many topics and issues facing us today as future physicians.”
Severin was praised for his desire to create an environment for learning based on teamwork and honest collegiality.
“He wanted us to understand that character is higher than intellect, and only those willing to put the success of their team on par with their own personal success will succeed and know what it means to be a doctor,” they said.