Published August 18, 2022
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Class of 2026 celebrated entry into medical school with a traditional White Coat Ceremony Aug. 5 at Kleinhans Music Hall.
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, welcomed the class and also later led the class in a recitation of the Oath of Medicine.
“We want to congratulate you on entering your next chapter to becoming a physician and we want to welcome you to the Jacobs School family,” Brashear said. “We look forward to seeing you in the hospitals, in the clinics and here on campus.”
She encouraged the class to wear their white coats with pride.
“The white coat is a symbol of healing for health care professionals and that necessary trust in the doctor-patient relationship. It is also a reminder of the goals and responsibilities of the noble profession that you are entering,” Brashear said. “You all earned this white coat. Please wear it well.”
Brashear and David A. Milling, MD, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education, also took time to recognize Jonathan D. Daniels, MD, associate director of admissions, who along with two of his daughters tragically died in a house fire in July.
“Throughout your admission process, many of you likely met the late Dr. Daniels. I know seeing all of you here today would have made him proud,” Brashear said. “While his life was cut short, his legacy is one that will always be remembered. The Jacobs School and all of us here are committed to continuing his work, and we’re thankful to Dr. Daniels for all that he did in diversifying medicine and improving health care equity throughout Western New York.”
“Our job is to make sure that four years from now, Buffalo is a better place than when you got here today. That is what Dr. Daniels would want,” said Milling, who was emcee for the ceremony.
Dori R. Marshall, MD ’97, associate dean and director of medical admissions, introduced students individually and identified their hometown and undergraduate affiliation as they were called to the stage amid applause from proud family members and friends in the audience.
“You are a tremendous class. I am so proud that the admissions committee chose you,” Marshall said.
This year’s class was selected from a pool of 5,170 applicants, the third-largest pool in school history. The acceptance rate for the class was 3.5 percent.
The average GPA is 3.58 and the average MCAT score is 507.
The class is composed of 99 women and 85 men.
Eighty-eight percent of the Class of 2026 — 163 students — are from New York State and 77 are from Western New York. Thirty-nine students earned their undergraduate degrees from UB.
Thirty-three students have master’s degrees.
In all, 12 states are represented.
“One indicator of the tremendous diversity in the class is found in the languages you speak in your home,” said Marshall, who read off 26 languages other than English.
While the majority majored in biological sciences, other majors include athletic training, business, engineering, chemistry, computer science, education, linguistics, mathematics, music, neuroscience, pharmacology, political science and psychology.
“You have served abroad in medical missions, you have mentored younger students, you have served in local soup kitchens. Many of you have found ways to serve community hospitals or health departments in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Marshall said. “Many of you have worked in top-tier research labs. You have published, and through that work you have already contributed to our growing body of medical knowledge.”
“We will encourage you while you are here to grow your basic interests, to grow your passions, and to continue to give back to your community, which for the next four years will be the city of Buffalo and greater Western New York,” Marshall added.
Charles M. Severin, MD ’97, PhD, associate dean for student and academic affairs, gave the keynote address.
He spoke about the history of the white coat and the importance of humanism in medicine.
“Your actions will display humanism, and your patients will expect knowledge, respect, trust, compassion, empathy and humility, even from student doctors such as yourselves,” Severin said.
He spoke of the importance of humility to the profession.
“You will constantly be reminded of what you don’t know. This will be a humbling experience, but that’s OK. Medical school will teach you a great deal, but not everything you need to function as a resident,” Severin said. “And on those days when you don’t know the answer, find the answer. Don’t take a passive approach by relying on a textbook for your education. You need to maximize your learning experience.”
He also mentioned the awesome responsibility wearing the white coat encompasses.
“When you are wearing that white coat, patients will tell you things they have not told their child, or even their spouse, but they’ll tell you because hopefully, by wearing that white coat, you will engender a trust, and keep what they say in confidence,” Severin said.
He also saluted the new class.
“Of the thousands of students who applied to our school, and of the hundreds who were interviewed, you were selected, because something you said at your interview, or what you wrote on your MCAT application — or both — showed the admissions committee that you have the heart of a physician,” Severin said.
“Dr. Kowalski’s legacy of service expands exponentially to the many students who he inspires,” said Severin, who presented the award to Kowalski.
Medical students nominate outstanding role models for the award. They had high praise for Kowalski, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and his medical degree from Georgetown University, and completed his residency at UB.
One nominator said that “in speaking with many of my classmates and also some of our residents, it is very clear that Dr. Kowalski’s passion for helping out is contagious, and all of us feel lucky to have had him as a role model.”
Another said that “when I think of someone who embodies humanism in medicine, Dr. Peter Kowalski quickly comes to mind.”
Sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Tow Award 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.